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^ MAR 7 1932 * 










VOL. I. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


The First Edition has now been exhausted for several years. 
In this Second Edition I have carefully gone over the whole 
narrative, and by the light of recent research have been able 
to alter and amend many things. I have, moreover, continued 
the narrative with a fulness proportioned to the rest of the 
history down to 1843 — the date of the Free Church Secession. 
Beyond that date, and down to the present day, I have given 
merely an outline of ecclesiastical events, carefully avoiding 
living divines, as happily not yet historical personages. 

J. c. 

Manse of Crieff, gt/i May 1882. 


Our best Scottish Ecclesiastical Histories are confined to 
particular periods. Indeed, so far as I know, there is not one 
which will conduct the student from the epoch of Christianity 
to the day in which he lives. This is the task I have 
undertaken ; but in traversing this long tract of time I have 
naturally lingered longest on those periods which are either 
most interesting or most instructive. 

Our ecclesiastical writers in general appear to have thought 
that the Church in our country before the Reformation was 
only the Church of Rome, and not the Church of Scotland 
too ; and accordingly they have left its history without inves- 
tigation and without record. As well might our political 
writers have passed over the history of the kingdom prior to 
the Revolution. In the one case our ancestors were living 
under a bad despotism, and in the other under a debasing 
superstition, but still they were our ancestors. Though the 
Church before the Reformation was Roman in its architecture, 
still it was built upon Scottish ground, and they were Scottish 
men and women who worshipped in it. It is impossible to 
understand our Church History subsequent to the Reforma- 
tion without knowing something of our Church History 
prior to it. It is impossible to appreciate our present insti- 
tutions, our present habits of thought, our present likings 
and dislikings, without reverting to our past Papistry. The 
Reformation in Scotland was certainly very complete — in 
no other country in the world was it so complete ; but still 


it could not root out every old idea, nor carry away every 
ancient landmark, nor make us an entirely different people 
from what we were before. The key to many things in our 
character and history is to be sought for in ante-Reformation 

Though Scotland presents but a narrow field, yet the 
ecclesiastical element has there had a fuller and freer develop- 
ment than in any other country. Wh at Eg yptis to the man 
who would ransack ancient temples and tombs, Scotland is to 
-'the man who would study the manifestations of ecclesiastical 
life. The Church of England never has had much action as a 
Church, and accordingly it can scarcely be said to have any 
history, except in so far as its history is bound up in the 
biographies of the illustrious men who have been reared within 
its pale. It has had no General Assembly to concentrate the 
energy of every individual, and to utter the sentiments of the 
whole. The Church of Scotland, on the other hand, from its 
republican constitution and representative courts, has a well- 
marked and peculiarly instructive history of its own, distinct 
from the biographies of its individual ministers, distinct from 
the political history of the State. But besides this, peculiar 
circumstances in the history of the country gave to the ecclesi- 
astical element peculiar vigour. The weakness of the monarchy 
till the Union of the Crowns, allowed the free expansion of 
ideas which have never been tolerated in countries where the 
monarchy is strong ; and during the civil wars, when the 
throne was laid low, they attained to a fuller expansion still. 
For a season the Church was left to wield its own powers, and 
to work out what it conceived to be its own ends, free from 
all pressure from without. Accordingly, during that period, 
ecclesiasticism is to be found in its purest form. In truth, the 
Church of Scotland has had within Scotland a history similar 
to what the Church of Rome has had within Christendom. 
We see the same laws in operation, though on a smaller scale, 
and under modifying circumstances. In the career of the one 
we can discern the blessings which flow from a pure creed and 
simple worship, and in that of the other the blighting effects 


of a baneful superstition ; but with both there has been the 
same union and energy of action, the same assumption of 
spiritual supremacy, the same defiance of law courts, parlia- 
ments, and kings. The history of either can be traced with 
equal precision, sometimes blending with civil history, but at 
other times diverging widely from it. I know only three 
Churches whose histories stand thus prominently out — the 
Jewish, the Roman, and the Scottish. Geneva had such a 
Church too, but it was only for a very little season. 

In writing this History I have endeavoured above all things 
to purge my heart of all leaven of polemical and party hatred, 
and to follow faithfully both truth and charity. I have not 
concealed my own sentiments, for it had been either hypocrisy 
or cowardice to have done so ; but I have endeavoured to 
state them without asperity, and to do justice to the motives, 
the opinions, and the conduct of those who differ from me. 
Though I cannot hope that I have arrived at perfect im- 
partiality, I trust I have never sacrificed truth to subserve a 
party purpose. I have seen enough and read enough to know 
that worth and wisdom are not confined to any Church or any 
sect, and that infallibility does not belong to Presbytery any 
more than to Popery. J. C. 



Druidism prevalent in Britain at Christian Era, I. Druid a Celtic 
word, I. Druidical Deities, 2. The Druids offered Human Sacrifices, 
and had some notions of a Future State, 2. The Ethics and Festivals of 
Druidism, 3. Druidical Circles, 5. The Divisions, Functions, and 
Science of the Druids, 6. Destruction of the Druids, 7. The Scots and 
Picts, 8. Scandinavians and Teutons, 9. Scandinavian Mythology, 1 1. 
The Norseman's Heaven, 13. Vestiges of Druidism and Scandinavian- 
ism, 15. 


Early Chroniclers, 17. King Donald, 19. Kirk Madrine, 19. Legend 
of St Andrew and St Rule, 20. Rise of the Pelagian Controversy, 21. 
Writings of St Augustine and St Jerome, 21. The First Evangelist of 
Britain unknown, 22. Constant Intercourse between Rome and Britain, 
23. Missionary Spirit of the First Christians, 24. Christianity probably 
reached Scotland from the South, 25. State of Scotland at this time, 26. 
Barbarism of both Picts and Scots, 27. Difficulties in the way of Chris- 
tianity, 27. 


St Ninian, 27. His Labours among the Galwegians and wSouthern 
Picts, 28. Foundation of Candida Casa, the First Stone Building in the 
Country, 28. Palladius, 29. St Patrick, 30. St Columba and his Bio- 
graphers, 31. Parentage and Education of St Columba, 32. His Arrival 
in Iona, 32. Labours among the Picts, 33. Reasons for selecting lona 
as the Seat of his Monastery, 34. Monastery of Iona : its Recluses, 
Rules, &c, 35. Death and Character of Columba, 36, ^J. Troubles of 
the Monks of Iona from the Incursions of the Norsemen, 37. St Mungo 
the Contemporary of St Columba, 38. Visit of Columba to Kentigern at 
the Molendinar Burn, 39. St Cuthbert, 39. Outline of General Church 
History for the First Six Centuries, 40, 41. Rise of Diocesan Episco- 
pacy, 42, 43. Rise of Monachism, 44, 45. Britain lost to the Roman 
World after the withdrawal of the Roman Legions, 46. Scottish Mona- 
chism, 47. The Scottish Bishops subject to the Presbyter-Abbot of 
Iona, 48. 



Arrival of the Monk Augustine in Kent, 49. He converts Ethelbert, 
King of Kent, and establishes himself at Canterbury, 50. Mission of 
Aidan to Northumbria, 51. He settles on Lindisfarne, and begins his 
apostolic work, 52. He dies, and is succeeded by Finan, 53. Northum 
berland, Mercia, and Essex Christianised by Monks from Iona, 53. Dis- 
putes in regard to Scotch Presbyters consecrating Bishops, 54, 55. 
Controversies about Easter, 56. Council of Whitby, 57. Disputes about 
the Tonsure, 58. Retirement of the Culdees from Northumbria, 59. 
Opinions of the Celtic Monks, 60, 61. Quarrels of the British and 
Romish Clergy, 62. The Culdees, 63. Culdee Remains, 65. Queen 
Margaret : her Piety and Beneficence, 67. Her Disputations with the 
Culdees, 68. Her Death, 69. Degeneracy of the Culdees, 69. 


Wars of the Scots and Picts, 70. Termination of the Pictish Kingdom, 
70. Origin of Tithes — Charlemagne — Alfred, 71, 72. Malcolm Can- 
more — Margaret — and English Settlers, 73. David I. erects many 
Bishoprics and Monasteries, and reforms the Church, 73, 74. The Barons 
follow his example, 74. Origin of Scotch Bishoprics, Parishes, and 
Abbeys, 74. Bishoprics of St Andrews, Glasgow, and Dunkeld, 74, 75. 
Division of the Country into Parishes, 75. Orders of Monks, 77. Passion 
to Endow Monasteries, 78. Appropriation of Parishes, 79. Spottis- 
wood's "Religious Houses," 79, 80. Carthusians at Perth, 81. Hos- 
pitallers and Templars, 81, 82. Nunneries and Nuns, 83. Wealth of 
the Roman Hierarchy, 83, 84. The Clergy promote Agriculture, 84, 85. 
They preserve Literature and conduct Business, 86. The Chronicles, 
Registers, and Chartularies of the Religious Houses, 87. The Monas- 
teries Educational Institutions, 88. The Monasteries served as Inns and 
Poorhouses, 89. Nature of the connection between the Church and the 
State, 89. Ancient Scottish Liturgies, 90, 91. Breviary of Aberdeen, 
91. Organs, Choirs, and Music, 92, 93. Religious Houses: their Archi- 
tects, Builders, &c, 94-96. 


Religion and Politics closely intertwined, 96. The Archbishop of York 
claims the Primacy of Scotland, and the Archbishop of Canterbury dis- 
putes it, 97. Turgot consecrated, and dies, 97, 98. Eadmer made Arch- 
bishop*of St Andrews, but resigns it on account of Disputes about his 
Consecration, 99. Thurstin claims Obedience of Glasgow, 99. Con- 
secrates Robert to See of St Andrews, 100. Bishops of the Orkneys, 100. 
David's Church-Reform, 101. David's Character and Death, 101. Malcolm 
IV. and William the Lion, 102. Council at Northampton, 103. Speech 
of Gilbert Murray, 103. Disputes about the Bishopric of St Andrews, 
104. The Pope excommunicates William, 105. Pope Lucius sends 
William the Golden Rose, 105. Clement declares Scotland dependent 
only on Rome, 106. Church of Scotland copies Anglican Models, 107. 


The Crusades, 108. Rights of Sanctuary, 109. Slavery, no. Scotland 
placed under an Interdict, III. Bishop of Caithness roasted alive, 112. 
The Scotch Clergy obtain Permission to hold Provincial Councils, 113. 
A Roman Legate visits Scotland, and is withstood by the King, 114. 
Cardinal Ottobon De Fieschi attempts to raise a Procuration, 115. The 
Twentieth of Benefices granted for the Holy War, 115. Benemundus de 
Vicci visits Scotland, 116. The Invasion of the Norwegians, 116. 
Arrival of the Mendicants, 117. Eminent Scotch Writers, 117. Michael 
Scot, 117.' John Holybush, Richard of St Victore, and Adam Scot, 118. 
Thomas Learmont, 119. Duns Scotus, 119. Death of Alexander III., 
120. Competition for the Crown, 121. The part taken by the Clergy in 
the War of Independence, 123. The Pope publishes a Truce between 
Scotland and England, and excommunicates Bruce, 124. The Estates of 
Scotland publish a Manifesto, setting forth the Independence of the King- 
dom, and Bruce's Right to the Throne, 125. Death of Bruce, and Adventure 
of his Heart, 126. Reigns of David II., Robert II., and Robert III., 
127. John De Fordun, Barbour, Bassol, Blair, Dempster, and Varoye, 128. 


Slow Growth of the Papacy, 129. Schism in the Church, 131. Council 
of Constance, and Rise of Wickliff, 131, 132. Martyrdom of Resby, 133. 
Foundation of the University of St Andrews, 133. James I. : his Vigour, 
and Reforms, 134-136. Martyrdom of Craw, 136. Visit of ^Eneas 
Silvius, 137. Murder of James I., and Troubles during the Minority of 
James II., 138. Foundation of the University of Glasgow, 139. Character 
and Services of Bishop Kennedy, 142. Patrick Grahame succeeds Kennedy 
at St Andrews, and gets the See erected into an Archbishopric, 144. Said 
to have been Mad, 145. Simoniacal Practices, 146. James III. is assassi- 
nated, and is succeeded by James IV., 147. Foundation of the Univer- 
sity of Aberdeen, 147. Hector Boethius its first Principal : his Character, 
149. First Native Literature, 150. Literary Attainments of the Clergy, 
and Anecdote of Bishop Forman, 151. Glasgow erected into an Arch- 
bishopric, 153. Archbishop Blackadder persecutes the Lollards, 153. 
Introduction of Printing, and its Influence on the Reformation, 154. 
Death of James IV. at Flodden, and his Character, 155. 


Leo X. ascends the Papal Throne : his Character, 156. Sale of In- 
dulgences, and the German Reformation, 157, 158. Contest for the See 
of St Andrews, 159. "Cleansing the Causeway," 161. Administration 
and Character of the Duke of Albany, and Queen Margaret, 161. Gawin 
Douglas, 162. Patrick Hamilton : his Opinions and Martyrdom, 162-165. 
Institution of the College of Justice, 165. Visit of Antonio Campeggio, 
as Papal Legate, to James V., 166. Diffusion of the Lutheran Opinions, 
166. Alexander Seaton, 167. Martyrdom of Forest, Gourlay, and 
Straiton, 167. Laws against Heresy and the Importation of Lutheran 
Books, 168. Henry VIII. of England revolts against Rome, 168. Dr 
Barlow sent on a Mission to Scotland, 169. James V. Marries, first 


Magdalene of France, and afterwards Mary of Guise, 170. Martyrdom 
of Forret, Simpson, Keillor, Beveridge, and Forrester, 171. The Vicar 
of Dollar and the Bishop of Dunkeld, 171. Martyrdom of Russel and 
Kennedy, 172. David Beaton made Archbishop of St Andrews, 172. 
Sadler's Mission to Scotland, 173. Acts of Parliament against Heretics, 
176. Acts of Parliament for the Reform of the Church and Churchmen, 
I77» The Embarrassmeut of James, 178. King James dies, 179. Cardi- 
nal Beaton claims the Regency, 180. The Nobles appoint the Earl of 
Arran Regent, 181. Henry VIII. projects a Marriage between Prince 
Edward and Queen Mary, 181. The Parliament authorizes the reading 
of the Scriptures in the Vulgar Tongue, 183. War between England and 
Scotland, 185. The French and English Factions, 186. Law against 
Heretics, and Martyrdoms at Perth, 186. George Wishart, 186. His 
Seizure, Trial, and Death, 189. Conspiracy to assassinate Beaton, 189. 
The Conspirators surprise his Castle and murder him, 190. Character of 
Beaton, 191. The Conspiracy Traced, 191-194. 


The Romish Creed, 194. Religious Edifices in Papal Times, 196. 
Preaching, 197. Sunday: how spent, 198. Pilgrimages, 199. Re- 
ligious Processions, 200. Mysteries, 200. Piety of Papal Times, 201. 
Ancient Oaths, and Act to prevent Swearing, 203. Morality of Papal 
Times, 203. Abuses in the Patronage of the Church, 204. Licentious- 
ness of the Clergy, 207. Literary Attainments of the Clergy, 208. 
Revenues of the Clergy, 210. Influences leading to the Reformation, 21 1. 
Power of Poetry, 211. Sir David Lyndsay's Poems, 213. Profane 
Ballads transmuted into Spiritual Songs, 215. Proportion of the Nation 
attached to the Protestant Doctrines, 218. 


Hamilton made Archbishop of St Andrews, 219. Henry VIII. of Eng- 
land assists the Castilians, 220. Knox joins them, 220. He is called to 
be a Protestant Preacher, 222. Theories of Orders, 224. The Con- 
spirators surrender the Castle to the French Admiral, 226. Knox and 
his Companions made Galley Slaves, 227. Somerset invades Scotland, 
and Battle of Pinkie fought, 228. Queen Mary is betrothed to the 
Dauphin, and sent to France, 228. Mary of Guise manages to supplant 
Arran in the Regency, 229. Provincial Council held, 230. Adam Wal- 
lace suffers Martyrdom, 231. Controversy about the Pater-noster, 231. 
Another Council held, 232. Catechism published, 233. Acts of Parlia- 
ment levelled at the Reformers, 234. Edward VI. and Mary of Englan d 
235. Knox is liberated, and settles in England, 236. He retires to 
Geneva, and becomes acquainted with Calvin, 237. He returns to Scot- 
land, 238. Knox preaches and administers the Sacrament in different parts 
of the country, 239. He is summoned to answer for his conduct, but the 
diet is abandoned, 240. He returns to Geneva, 240. The Reformers 
invite Knox to return, and then repent having done so, 242. The First 
Covenant, 243. Protestant Congregations formed, and Protestant Barons 


assume name of Lords of the Congregation, 244. Resolutions of the Con- 
gregation, 245. Martyrdom of Walter Mill, 247. Demands of the 
Protestant Barons, 248. Policy of the Queen Regent, 250. Marriage of 
Mary with the Dauphin, 251. The last Roman Council, 252. The 
Regent summons the Preachers and outlaws them, 255. Knox preaches 
at Perth, and the Mob destroy the Monasteries, 256. The Regent 
marches upon Perth, but consents to a Treaty, 257. Knox preaches at 
Crail, Anstruther, and St Andrews, 258. The Abbey of Scone and the 
Abbey of Cambuskenneth are destroyed, 259. Traditionary Maxim of 
Knox, 260. Francis and Mary, now King and Queen of France, try to 
detach the Prior of St Andrews from the Protestant Cause, but fail, 262. 
Invectives of Knox and other Preachers, 263. Negotiations with England 
set on foot, 263. Knox's Proposals, 264. Views of the Leaders of the 
Congregation, 265. The Protestant Barons depose the Queen Regent, 
267. Treaty of Berwick, 270. The English besiege Leith, 270. Death 
and Character of the Queen Regent, 271. Treaty of Edinburgh, 273. 
The Parliament meets, 273. The Protestant Confession is adopted, 275. 
Acts against Popery, 276. 


Contrast between the Scotch and English Reformations, 277. The First 
Staff of the Protestant Church, 280. The First Book of Discipline, 281. 
The Office-Bearers of the New Church, 282. The Worship and Discipline 
of the New Church, 285. The Patrimony of the Old Church, and its ap- 
propriation by the New, 288. Influence of Church Property on the 
Reformation, 291. Knox denounces the Sacrilege of the Nobles, 292. 
The Privy Council refuse to sanction the First Book of Discipline, 292. 
First General Assembly, 293. Disputation between Romanists and Re- 
formers, 294. Second Assembly, 294. Demolition of Religious Houses, 
295. Embassages to France and death of Francis II., 296. Lesley and 
Lord James Stewart, 297. Mary returns to wScotland, 298. The Mass at 
Holyrood, 298. First Interview between Mary and Knox, 299. The 
Holy Water of the Court, 303. Disputes between the Protestant Barons 
and Clergy, 304. Scheme to pay the Protestant Ministers out of the 
Thirds of Benefices, 305. Dissipation of Ecclesiastical Property, 307. 
Business of the First Assemblies, 311. Divided and excited state of the 
Nation, 313. Policy of Queen Mary, 314. Second Interview of Knox 
and the Queen, 315. Third Interview of Knox and the Queen, 317. 
The Parliament passes an Act of Indemnity, 318. Knox's Sermon on the 
Queen's Marriage, 319. Scene at the Palace, 319. Knox summoned 
before the Council, charged with Treason, 321. Knox marries his second 
wife, 322. Darnley arrives in Scotland, and gains the heart of Mary, 323. 
Acts of the General Assembly, 324. Marriage of Mary and Darnley, 324. 
Knox's Sermon, 325. Moray and others rebel, 327. Murder of Rizzio, 
328. Murder of Darnley, 329. Mary marries Bothwell, and Nobles 
rebel, 329. The General Assembly meets, 330. Moray made Regent, 


Moray passes Acts in favour of the Church, 333. Mary escapes from 
Lochleven, and Battle of Langside, 335. Murder of the Regent Moray, 336. 


His Character, 336. The Factions of the King and Queen, 337. Knox 
at St Andrews, 338. Archbishop Hamilton hanged, 339. Church Pro- 
perty — How to be disposed of? 339. Concordat of Leith, 341. The 
Assembly sanctions it, 343. Motives of the Ministers, 344. Views of 
Knox, 345. Death and Character of Knox, 347. Execution of Kirk- 
caldy, and sudden death of Maitland, 349. Andrew Melville returns to 
Scotland, 350. Was Episcopacy Scriptural? 351. Decisions of the As- 
sembly, 352. The Regent Morton threatens Melville, 353. James VI. 
nominally assumes the Government, 354. Influence of Melville and Beza, 
354. Second Book of Discipline, 356. Erection of Presbyteries, 360. 
D'Aubigne obtains the King's Favour, and is created Duke of Lennox, 
361. He abjures Popery, 362. Craig's Confession, 362. Execution of 
Morton, 363. Montgomery accepts Archbishopric of Glasgow, and is 
brought before the Church Courts, 364. Montgomery yields, to escape 
Excommunication, 365. Disputes revived, and Montgomery Excommuni- 
cated, 366. Melville braves the Earl of Arran, 366. Durie Banished, 368. 
The Power of the Keys, 368. The Raid of Ruthven, 370. George 
Buchanan, 371. French Embassage, 373. Durie and Melville before the 
Council, 374. The Black Acts of 1584, 375. Reluctant Submission of 
the Ministers to the Acts, 379. Return of Exiled Nobles and Ministers, 
and Flight of Arran, 380. Lord Maxwell celebrates Mass, 381. General 
Assembly of 1586, 382. The King orders Prayers to be offered for his 
Mother, 383. Act passed Annexing the Temporalities of Benefices to 
the Crown, 384. The Spanish Armada, 385. The Marriage of James 
VI., 385. The Assembly of 1590, and the Speech of the King, 387. 
Death of Archbishop Adamson, 388. Act of Parliament restoring Pres- 
bytery, 388. 


The General Assembly; its Constitution, and the Sources of its Strength, 
389. The Superintendents discontinued, 393. Clerical Costumes pre- 
scribed by Act of Assembly, 393. Number of Churches without Minis- 
ters, 394. The Book of Common Prayer, 395. Domestic Devotions, 396. 
Fasts, 397. Discipline of the Church, 398. State of Society, 399. 
Witchcraft, 399. Sunday Observance, 401. Clerk-Plays, 401. The 
Robin Hood Plays, Queen of May, &c, 402. Pageants, 403. The 
Printing Press : its Supervision by the Church, 404. First Edition of the 
Bible published in Scotland, 405. Ill-usage of the Papists, 406. Jealousies 
of the Papists and Protestants, 408. James VI. combats both Presby- 
terians and Papists, 411. Liberties of the Ministers with the King, 412. 
Bancroft's Attack upon the Church of Scotland, 413. The Brownists : 
their Rise, Opinions, and Reception in Scotland, 414. 


Apprehension of Ker at the Cumbraes, 416. The Spanish Blanks found 
in his possession, 416. James marches against the Popish Earls who had 
subscribed the Blanks, 417. Resolutions of the General Assembly, 417. 
Meeting of the Parliament, and Excommunication of the Popish Lords by 
the Synod of Fife, 420. The King's Perplexities, 421. The Popish Lords 


crave a Trial, 421. Demands of the Protestants, 421. Resolutions of the 
Committee of Parliament, 423. Dissatisfaction in the Country, 424. 
Bothwell's Treasons and Rebellions, 425. Battle of Glenlivet, 426. James 
marches to Strathbogie and Slaines, and compels Huntly and Errol to flee, 
427. The King invited to Kiss a Crucifix, 427. The Popish Lords leave 
the Country, 428. The Octavians and the Cubiculars, 429. General 
Assembly of 1596, 429. Huntly and Errol return to Scotland in Disguise, 
431. The King resolves to pardon them, 432. Violent Remonstrances 
of Andrew Melville, 432. Ross, Black, and others defame the King in the 
Pulpit, 434. Black is Summoned before the Council, and declines its 
Jurisdiction, 435. Black is found guilty, and put in ward, 436. Spiritual 
Independence, 437. Riot in Edinburgh, 438. The King resolves to re- 
introduce Episcopacy, and circulates Queries in regard to Church-Govern- 
ment, 440. Assembly at Perth; its Compliances, 441. Assembly at 
Dundee appoints a Commission, 443. Restoration of the Popish Lords, 
444. The Parliament agrees to receive a number of Ministers, as repre- 
senting the Third Estate, 444. Assembly at Dundee agrees to appoint 
Representatives to sit in Parliament, 446. The Ordination of Bruce, 447. 
Lawsuit between the King and Bruce, 448. James publishes the " Basili- 
con Doron,"448. The King's Disputes with the Clergy about a Company 
of Comedians, 451. Assembly at Montrose : its Resolutions in Regard to 
those who were to sit in Parliament, 452. The Gowrie Conspiracy. 453. 
Erection of the University of Edinburgh, 456. Assembly at Burntisland in 
1601, 456. Accession of James VI. to the English Throne, 457. 


Conference of English Divines at Hampton Court, 458. The King 
prorogues the Assembly indicted to meet at Aberdeen in July 1604, 461. 
He dissolves the Assembly indicted to meet at Aberdeen in July 1605 ; 
but some of the Ministers constitute the Meeting, fix upon a day for a future 
Assembly, and then adjourn, 462. They are called before the Council, 
and having declined its jurisdiction, are tried for treason, and found guilty, 
463. The Parliament meets and restores the Episcopal Estate, 464. The 
King invites some of the Scotch Bishops and Presbyterian Ministers to 
Court, 466. He puts them through a course of Episcopal Divinity, 466-8. 
Andrew Melville writes an Epigram on the Anglican Worship, 468. He 
is tried by the English Council, found guilty, and sent to the Tower, 469. 
Future Career and Character of the two Melvilles, 470. Assembly held 
at Linlithgow, 471. Popular Dissatisfaction with its Measures, 472. 
Assembly of 1608, 473. The Popish Lords relapse, 473. Two Courts of 
High Commission erected, 475. Act of Parliament authorising the King 
to prescribe Churchmen's Apparel, 475. Assembly of 1610, and its Acts 
setting up Episcopacy, 476. Scotch Bishops proceed to London to receive 
Consecration, 479. The Parliament ratifies the Acts of the Assembly of 
1 6 10, 480. Vestiges of Popery, 481. Martyrdom of Ogilvy, a Jesuit, 481. 
Assembly of 161 6, 482. James revisits Scotland, 483. The Parliament 
meets, 484. The Protest of the Presbyterian Ministers, 485. The Pub- 
lication of the " Book of Sports," 486. Assembly of 1617, 487. Assembly 
at Perth in August 1618, 488. The Five Articles of Perth, 490. Non- 
conformists, 491. The Synod of Dort, 492. Mrs Welsh and the King, 
493. Death and Character of James VI., 494. 



Accession of Charles L, 494. The beginning of his English Troubles, 
495. He visits Scotland and is Crowned, 496. Introduction of the 
Anglican Ritual, 497. Meeting of the Estates, 498. Opposition to some 
Acts, 499. Lord Balmerino condemned, 500. Digression in regard to 
Teinds and Stipends, 500. Digression in regard to Parish Schools. 506. 
Spottiswood made Lord Chancellor, 511. Charles resolves to introduce a 
New Liturgy, 511. Notices of the Old Liturgy, 512. The Canons and 
Constitutions Ecclesiastical, 513. Laud's Liturgy, 514. Tumult in the 
Church of St Gile, 516. The Prosecution of Alexander Henderson, 519. 
The King rebukes the Council for suspending the use of the Liturgy, 519. 
Riots in Edinburgh, 520. Constitution of the Tables, 523. The King 
publishes a Proclamation, 524. The Presbyterians resolve to bind them- 
selves together in a Religious Covenant, 526. Subscription of the Cove- 
nant at the Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh, 527. Different Opinions 
about the Covenant, 529. 




At the time when the Great Founder of our Faith was 
preaching his Gospel in the cities of Galilee, the inhabitants 
of this island were practising Druidical rites under the shadow 
of their ancient oaks. 

The elder Pliny derives the name Druid from the Greek 
word "drus" which signifies an oak; but though there be in 
the words a striking similarity of sound, it is much more 
natural to think that Celtic priests would be called by a name 
native to the Celtic speech. Druid/i, signifying a sage, is a 
word still used in some of the Celtic dialects, and it is evi- 
dently the name formerly applied to the priests. Caesar tells 
us, that in his day the Druidical religion prevailed in Gaul 
and Britain ; l but he gives us only some very scanty notices 
regarding its nature ; and the knowledge derived from his 
Commentaries is not greatly supplemented by the information 
to be gleaned from other sources. It appears, how r ever, to 
have borne some resemblance to that taught by the Magi of 
Persia, the Brahmins of India, and the priests of Tyre. So 
great a likeness is it said to have had to the Phoenician faith, 
that some antiquaries have imagined it must have been com- 
municated to our forefathers by those Phoenician merchants 
who are known to have traded with our country for tin, long 
before the era of Christianity. The idea is chimerical : for a 
solitary galley touching perhaps once a year upon the coast, 
with a crew more eager to make rich by lucrative barter than 
to gain merit by disseminating truth, could never give religion 
to lands stretching through fifteen degrees of latitude. Besides, 
it is needless; religions, like languages, present affinities 

1 Caesar. De Bello Gallico, lib. vi. He imagines it originated in 
Britain and was translated thence into Gaul. 

VOL. I. A 


which point to a common source from which they have 
originally sprung, and speak, moreover, of those religious in- 
stincts which are common to every human heart. 

There are circumstances which lead us to believe that the 
Druids had some idea that there was but one Supreme God ; 
but, be this as it may, if the classical writers are to be credited, 
they were in the habit of sacrificing to a multitude of Gods. 
Their chief divinity they identified with the sun, the most 
glorious object in nature, the fountain of life and light, 
presenting to uninstructed people the highest emblem of the 
deity ; and which, therefore, has been worshipped on the 
plains of Chaldea and in the golden temples of Peru, among 
the ancient Canaanites, and the ancient Britons. It seems to be 
but too true that they were in the habit, occasionally at least, of 
sacrificing to their divinities human victims ; but we should not 
wonder at this, for it has been characteristic of almost every 
system of superstition. Our Pagan ancestors, in this respect, 
were not worse than others; and it were a piece of foolish vanity 
in us to believe them to have been better. The maxim of the 
Mosaic law, that without shedding of blood there could be no 
remission of sin, was known far beyond the limits of Judea ; 
and it appears to have been an article in the Druidical creed, 
that nothing but the life of a man could atone for the life of a 
man. 1 The victims in these horrid rites were generally chosen 
from criminals, or captives taken in war, as the sacrifice of 
these was believed to be peculiarly pleasing to the Gods. It 
was common for a private person afflicted with any serious 
disease, or before going to battle, to vow such a sacrifice. At 
other times great public sacrifices were made ; upon which 
occasions the priests formed huge images of wicker-work, and 
filling these with living human beings, set them on fire, as an 
offering to their cruel Gods. 2 

The Druids appear to have had some glimmering concep- 
tions of a future state : which they made use of to inspire the 
people with a contempt of death. Caesar and Diodorus say 
that they taught the doctrine of the transmigration of souls : 
Lucan and Marcellinus speak of them as teaching that the 
soul, after death, ascended to a higher orb, where it enjoyed a 
more perfect repose. 3 Perhaps, they may have combined 
both ideas, and believed that the spirit, after leading a wan- 

1 ( loesar, lib. vi. 2 Ibid. 

3 ibid. Diodorus Siculus, Bibl, 5. Lucan, Phars. i. Ammianus Mar- 
cellinus, xv. 


dering life for a time, and inhabiting sometimes a human, 
sometimes a bestial abode, rose to their Flaith-innis} or isle of 
the happy. It is recorded of them, with what truth we do 
not vouch, that their faith in a future state was so firm, that 
they gave loans of money to each other, to be repaid when 
they reached the abodes of the blessed. " I should call them 
fools " — says Valerius Maximus, who narrates this circumstance 
— " were it not that Pythagoras, in his flowing robes, believed 
the same as these men in trews." 2 We greatly doubt if the 
Greek philosopher would have given such a proof of the 
strength of his faith. 

The ethics of the Druidical system appear to have been 
purer than the generality of pagan codes. The people were 
taught "to reverence the Gods, to do nothing evil, and to 
practise manly virtue." 3 As is the case with all barbarous 
nations, they esteemed strength and courage in battle before 
everything else. One custom they had which appears to us 
not only immoral but disgusting — it was common for near 
relatives to have a community of wives. 4 All superstitions have 
forbidden some kind of food to their votaries, either from its 
pretended sanctity or its supposed uncleanness. The ancient 
Briton refused to eat the hare, the hen, or the goose ; the mo- 
dern Briton, less scrupulous and more wise, devours them all. ■' 

Druidism had its festivals; and of these, two were regarded 
with especial respect. The first was held at the beginning 
of May, and was called Bailtein, or fire of Bel. The chief 
ceremony of this high day consisted in kindling a huge bon- 
fire on the summit of a hill, in honour of the summer's sun, 
whose return was thus welcomed to our northern climate. 
The other great festival was called Samhainn, or fire of peace, 
and was held on Hallow- eve, which still retains that name 
among our Celtic population. On this occasion justice was 
administered, quarrels adjusted, disputes solved; and the 
sacred fire kindled by the violent friction of two pieces of 
wood, from which all the fires in the district, previously put 
out, might be relighted. 6 It is probable that in this ceremony 
we see a friendly farewell to the sun for the year, and some ol 

1 Flaitheanas is still the Gaelic word for heaven. 

2 Valerius Max., lib. c. 3 Diogenes Laertius, Prooem. § 6. 

4 Caesar, lib. v. 

5 Csesar, lib. v. Dio Cassius adds that they abstained from fish also ; 
but this is hardly credible, especially of those who lived on the coast. 

6 The old Romans had a custom of this kind ; and so had the inhabi- 
tants of Peru. 


his kindly warmth brought down from heaven by the priests 
and given to the people, to cheer and comfort them during 
the cold and gloom of the winter. Philosophers and historians 
have remarked how long a religious practice may linger among 
a people, even after the religion itself has been totally de- 
stroyed. It is easy to trace in the Roman ritual of the present 
day the influence of the mythology of the ancient world. 
Druidical ideas are scarcely yet extinct in Presbyterian coun- 
tries. The kindling of fires at Beltane and at Hallow-eve has 
descended in some parts of the country almost to our time ; x 
and many centuries after the complete establishment of Chris- 
tianity, so attached were the Highlanders to this usage, that 
Gaelic councils had to forbid it on pain of death. 

Besides these solemnities, the Druids observed the full 
moon, and also the sixth day of the moon. They regarded as 
sacred, not merely the oak, but the mistletoe when it grew upon 
it, which it rarely does, as it prefers the apple tree. Its blos- 
som is full about the summer solstice, and its berries glisten 
white at the winter solstice. At these sacred seasons prepara- 
tions for feasting and sacrifice were made under the trees, the 
holy herb was cut by the Arch-Druid with a golden bill ; and 
it was universally regarded by the people as an antidote against 
poison, and a remedy for every disease. 2 

The Druids performed all their acts of worship in the open 
air, and generally within the religious shadows of their con- 
secrated groves. Neither had they any images of their deities, 
saving those which they found in the heavenly bodies. Per- 
haps, like the Germans, they imagined that it derogated from 
the greatness of the immortal Gods to confine them within 
houses made with hands, or to liken them to any human 
form. 3 But a more natural, though a less erudite explanation 
of the fact may be found in the circumstance, that the Britons 
had as yet no architects to rear temples, nor sculptors to chisel 
statues. In many districts of the island, however, we find 
circles of huge stones set upon their ends, sometimes with a 
large flat stone in the centre; and these till lately were gene- 
rally regarded as Druidical temples. But some of our anti- 
quaries now maintain that they were simply burial places, as 
urns and calcined bones have been frequently found under the 

1 Rev. Dr Bisset. Statistical Account of Logierait, 1793. 

2 Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. xvi. 

:i Tacitus affirms this was the reason why the Germans had no temples- 
or images. 


stones, and as there is no ancient authority for connecting 
them with Druidism. 1 But there is nothing improbable in 
supposing that they were at once temples and cemeteries, for 
men have exhibited a very general desire to bury their dead 
where they worship their God. Besides, we know that stand- 
ing stones were objects of worship, not only in Scotland but 
elsewhere. Whether temples or tombs they are interesting as 
the earliest effort of architectural art in the island. The only 
houses at that period were a clumsy contexture of stakes and 
the branches of trees, so flimsy that not a vestige of them now 
remains. The Druidical circles are as superior to these as the 
temple of Jupiter Capitolinus was superior to the Roman 
villa. Their erection, though exhibiting little art, must have 
required great force. The stones in several cases stand 
twenty feet above the surface of the soil, and must be at least 
half as many below it. They have retained their stability for 
more than two thousand years, while the finest temples of 
antiquity have fallen to the ground; and they bid fair to 
endure as long as the Egyptian pyramids. It is worthy of 
notice that the two best specimens now remaining to us occur 
at the opposite extremities of the kingdom — the one at Stone- 
henge, on Salisbury Plain, and the other at Stennes, in the 
Orkney Isles. 

The Druids evidently exercised a prodigious influence over 
the barbarous devotees of their worship. Caesar tells us that 
among the Gauls there were only two classes of any note, the 
Druids and the Knights ; and of these the Druids appear to 
have been the more illustrious. Possessed of a more extensive 
authority than the most noble, it is not- surprising, they were 
in general the sons of the first families. Beside their natural 
jurisdiction in matters of religion, they seem to have had in 
their hands the framing, interpreting, and executing the laws. 
If any one proved refractory, they interdicted him from the 
sacrifices ; and their excommunications appear to have been as 
formidable as those afterwards issued by the priests of Rome. 
The anathematised person was shunned by all, lest they should 
catch the con tagion of his guilt, and was reckoned an outlaw, 
incapable of enjoying either honour or redress. 2 Although 
this would now be regarded as a most unwarrantable abuse of 
sacerdotal power, there can be little doubt but that then it 
was highly beneficial. In all probability the Druids were the 

1 Stuart, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, vol. ii. Preface. 

2 Caesar, lib. vi. 


wisest and most virtuous men in the nation ; and, in a tur- 
bulent state of society, the terrors of superstition are more 
effective than the rigours of law in maintaining justice and 

No body of men could possess such power without appro- 
priating peculiar privileges to themselves. The Druids were 
exempted from taxes and military service, and their persons 
were regarded as sacred. 1 There appears to have been three 
different classes of them — the priests, the prophets, and the 
bards. The first waited upon the sacrifices, the second ob- 
served omens and augured events, the last were the historians 
and poets of the time. They monopolised all the little learn- 
ing of the period, and their wisdom was contained in a great 
number of verses, which those who studied in their schools got 
by memory. These they never committed to writing, although 
they are said to have been acquainted with the use of letters. 2 
They were probably jealous lest others should become ac- 
quainted with their sacred lore, were it contained in books ; 
for all the ancient priesthoods affected mystery, and thus in- 
creased their hold on the people. They are understood, how- 
ever, to have pretended to some knowledge concerning the 
stars and their motions ; concerning the earth and its magni- 
tude ; concerning the nature of things, and the power of the 
immortal Gods. 3 It were curious to inquire whether these 
studies were traditional and originally brought from the east, 
or whether the human mind has naturally, in so many cases, 
put forth its first strength on such researches. 

Such was Druidism as described by the Roman writers ; but 
it is certain that while such a theology and such a hierarchy as 
this may have existed in the Romanised provinces of Gaul and 
Britain, the religion of the Britons of Strathclyde and the Scots 
of Hibernia was of a much humbler kind, and consisted chiefly 
in a belief in the existence of invisible powers, whose malice 
might be averted by incantations and charms. They wor- 
shipped wells and stones they had set up, perhaps as rude 
representations of their Gods, and at these they made their 
bargains and their vows. 4 

The Romans, in general tolerant of the religions of the 

1 Caesar, lib. vi. -' Ibid. 3 Ibid. 

4 The rude wooden image recently dug out of the peat at Balachulish 
appears to throw doubt on the statement of the Latin writers that they had 
no images. Only they may have learned from the Romans this first lesson 
in statuary. 


nations which they conquered, resolved, for some unascer- 
tained reason, to extirpate Druidism, and to exterminate its 
priests. Their motive is said to have been a wish to put an 
end to the horrid cruelty of immolating human victims ; but 
the conquerors of the world did not in general exhibit such 
humanity, and it is far more likely that the patriotism of the 
Druids, and their power over the people in exciting them to 
revolt, may have made it a part of Roman policy to destroy 
them. The island of Anglesey, off the coast of Wales, and 
now united to the mainland by bridges, which are among the 
marvels of modern art, was the chief seat of the Druidical 
superstition ; and thither a great number of its votaries had 
fled, as to the last asylum of their religion and liberties. The 
Roman armies followed ; battle was joined on the shore \ reli- 
gious enthusiasm and undisciplined valour were unavailing ; 
and a great slaughter ensued. 1 From this fatal day Druidism 
declined in the south of the island. Many of its priests are 
said to have fled northwards, and some of these are thought to 
have found a refuge in Iona, the earliest name of which was 
Innis-nan Druidhneacli, the isle of the Druids. 2 It is singular 
if this little rock has been the last home of one religion, and 
the first chosen seat in our country of another and more 
blessed one. However this may be, we may be quite sure 
Druidism did not die in a day. It had struck its roots too 
deep into the soil to be thus easily plucked up. It is pro- 
bable it lingered in Scotland till the sixth or seventh century ; 
and it is certain that some of its peculiar rites and beliefs con- 
tinued to haunt the country for centuries more, for vestiges of 
these are to be found at the present hour. 3 

But though Druidism was probably the prevailing religion 

3 Tacitus, Annal. xiv. 30. 

2 Origines Parochiales Scotiae. Iona. There is also pointed out, close 
to the Sound of Iona, a green eminence, still called the Druids' Burial 
Place — Claodh nan Druidhneach, literally the Druid's Stone. See also 
" Statistical Account of Scotland," Kilfinichan and Kilvictiien, 1795. It 
is not improbable, however, that Druidh may have been applied to the 
monks, as it was to the Pagan priests, and that this may be the origin of 
these designations. 

3 Dr Burton (Hist. c. vi.) and Dr Stuart (Sculptured Stones) deny that 
Druids or Druidism ever existed in Scotland. I cannot carry my scepti- 
cism so far. People of the same Celtic stock occupied the northern and 
southern parts of the island, and the name of Druid came from the Celtic 
speech. It is not likely that the religion of the Britons of Kent was 
entirely different from that of the Britons of Strathclyde. The existence 
of the same sacred circles, whether temples or tombs, at the two extremities 
of the island, prove the identity of the usages of the people. 


in Britain when the Christian era began, it was not the only 
one. There were other forms of superstition there already, or 
introduced afterwards which have left behind them a few 
monumental stones, and more enduring proofs of their exist- 
ence in our institutions, our language, and our habits of 
thought. Scotland gave shelter to more races than one, and 
accordingly to more religions. 

Tacitus calls the northern part of Britain Caledonia, and its 
inhabitants Caledonians. In the third century we first hear of 
the Picts, and a century later of the Scots — the Caledonians 
are no more heard of — and these two peoples begin to play 
the most important part in the barbarian history of the country. 
They were continually harassing the southern Britons, and all 
the armies of Rome could not subdue them. Who were these 
Scots and Picts, and whence came they ? The Scots came 
from Ireland, their native seat, and settled along the western 
coast. From the fourth century onwards their fleets of frail, 
wicker-work boats were constantly landing colonies on the 
coast of Argyll, where they appear to have easily acquired 
territory, and coalesced with the aborigines, who were pro- 
bably of the same Celtic stock as themselves. We may safely re- 
gard the present Highlanders as the lineal descendants of these 
Irish Scots with a blending of aboriginal blood. Shut in by 
their mountain ranges and deep glens, their blood has been 
preserved purer than in any other part of the island, except 
Wales. Their Celtic speech, their traditions, their form and 
features are the evidences of their descent. The genesis of 
the Picts is much more doubtful. They mysteriously appear 
on the stage, and as mysteriously vanish after a history of six 
hundred years. They are now thought by most archaeologists 
to be no other than the ancient Caledonians with a new name 
— a name, as some say, invented by the Romans to indicate 
that they were fond of war-paint long after their Romanised 
brethren in the south had abandoned it, but it rather seems a 
Latinised form of the native Ffichti. Recent investigations 
seem to indicate, but by no means decisively, that they also 
were of a Celtic stock. 1 But if so, they must have had, even at 
a pre-Christian date, such an admixture of Teutonic blood as 
already to distinguish them. Tacitus tells us that the Cale- 
donians, unlike their southern neighbours, were men of large 
limbs and fair hair; we learn from Adamnan that the Celtic 
St Columba required an interpreter when he visited the Picts ; 
1 See Skene's Celtic Scotland, vol. i. 


Bede speaks of the Picts as having a language of their own ; 
and the population of the east and north-east of Scotland, 
where the Picts chiefly were, is clearly at this day not of Celtic 
but of Scandinavian lineage. From a period beyond history, 
the Norsemen in their open canoes would bravely cross the 
narrow sea which separates Scotland from Norway and Den- 
mark and take possession of the land lying along the shores. 
and as love is stronger than hate, gradually intermarry with 
the natives, as the Saxons and Angles afterwards did farther 

In the sixth century, the age of St Columba, the kingdom 
of the Scots appears to have included the districts of Lorn, 
Argyll, Knapdale, Cowal, Cantire, Lochaber, a part of Bread- 
albane, and perhaps the Western Isles. The Pictish territory 
included all the rest of the north of Scotland, from the Firths 
of Forth and Clyde to the Orkney Isles — in which it would 
appear there were two kingdoms, the northern and the 
southern, divided from one another by the Grampian Hills. 
In the south-west of the country stretching from the Clyde as 
far south as the Derwent in Cumberland, was the kingdom of 
Strathclyde, where the aboriginal Britons still held their 
ground, in close contiguity with their hunted compatriots 
in Wales. Galloway was peopled by Picts cut off from 
their kindred and shut up in this water-girt corner of the 

The stream of Scandinavian blood early introduced into 
the island was afterwards almost continuously augmented by 
the incursions of the Norsemen. As far back as the dawn of 
history, and before it, when we have nothing but traditions to 
guide us, these sea-warriors would seem to have been per- 
petually sweeping the seas, and landing on the coast, some- 
times for conquest and sometimes for plunder. Our earliest 
poetry, embodying the recollections of a still earlier time, is 
full of bloody battles fought upon the beach, and of tall pirates 
driven back into the wave. We have evidence that in the 
fourth century, and even before it, the Saxon pirates infested 
the northern shores of Britain. In the century following 
they landed in England and the south of Scotland in such 
numbers as to make themselves masters of the country. The 
Northumbrian kingdom of the Angles extended from the 
Humber to the Forth. In the ninth century, as we know, 
and probably much earlier, the Danes made incursions on our 
coasts. At the same period, Norwegian pirates siezed upon 


the Orkney and Western Isles, and the Norsemen kept their 
footing in Orkney for centuries. 

The mythology of Scandinavia must have entered our 
country with these Scandinavian tribes. Thurso in Caithness 
received its name from the god Thor. The nomenclature 
of our week we derived from the Saxons, and at least four 
days are called in honour of Scandinavian divinities. 1 The 
colonists along the northern and eastern shores, if sprung from 
Scandinavian mothers, must have been of the Scandinavian 
faith. Indeed, eminent antiquaries have held that the only 
religion of Caledonia was Scandinavian. We think it more 
probable that during several centuries the Gods of Scandi- 
navia divided the country with the Gods of the Druids ; and 
it is not unlikely that in the minds of an ignorant and bar- 
barous people the two theologies may have been commingled. 
They had several points of resemblance ; and it is to be 
remembered that all pagan nations have been very tolerant of 
each other's Gods. 2 Home records furnish us with very little 
information in regard to the religion of Pictland if it differed 
from the Druidical. Our only knowledge is derived from the 
life of St Columba, who converted the northern Picts to 
Christianity. His biographer informs us that they worshipped 
certain fountains, and ascribed healing virtues to them. There 
were other wells of which if a person drank, or washed in them, 
he became leprous or blind. They had their own Gods, 
whom they thought stronger than the God of the Christians ; 
their priests, who could milk a bull, and raise dark mists and 
contrary winds. 3 Their religion, in fact, appears to have been, 
like that of all savage tribes, little better than a kind of 
fetichism, a belief in sorcery, and the existence of certain 
invisible and dreaded powers who could do evil ; but it must 
be told the Christian faith when brought into collision with 
this low superstition is also exhibited simply as a superior 
sorcery. St Columba met and beat the Pictish priests on 
their own field, as Moses defeated the magicians of Egypt. 

1 Wednesday from Woden or Odin ; Thursday from Thor ; Friday 
from Freya, and Tuesday (Scottice, Tyesday) from Ty, a minor divinity 
popular with the Angles ; Saturday probably comes from Saetir, an almost 
unknown Teutonic deity. 

2 So many are the points of resemblance, that Borlase, in his Antiquities 
of Cornwall, holds them to have been the same. 

3 Vita Sancti Columbrc. Auctore Adamnano. An edition of this 
interesting work was published by the Bannatyne Club ; but the edition 
of Dr Reeves is made still more valuable by its preface and notes. 

.\.D. 300-500.] SCANDINAVIAN THEOLOGY. l ■ 

When we turn from the scanty religious records of Pictland to 
the Skaldic literature of Iceland, and the ancient Eddas of the 
north to learn something of the religion which probably pre- 
vailed at least in the north and east of the mainland, and in the 
swarm of islands which were held by the Norsemen, we find a 
much more fully developed theology, but probably it is, after 
all, only the popular superstition ennobled by poetry. 

The primitive theology of the Scandinavian tribes appears 
to have embraced the doctrine of one Supreme Deity. " He 
liveth from all ages, He governeth all realms, and swayeth all 
things great and small. He hath formed heaven and earth, 
and the air, and all things thereunto belonging. And what is 
more, He hath made man, and given him a soul which shall 
live and never perish, though the body shall have mouldered 
away, or have been burnt to ashes. And all that are righte- 
ous shall dwell with Him in the place called Gimli or Vin- 
golf ; but the wicked shall go to Hel, and thence to Niflhel, 
which is below in the ninth world." x It is certain, however, 
that this sublime belief was confined to the few \ and that in- 
ferior divinities monopolised the worship of the many, who 
were quite ignorant of the One Supreme. 

According to the prose Edda, there were twelve Gods, in 
whom men w T ere bound to believe, and to whom divine hon- 
ours ought to be paid. The Goddesses were equally numer- 
ous, and "not less divine and mighty." The first and eldest 
of the ^Esir is Woden. " He governs all things, and although 
the other deities are powerful, they all serve and obey him as 
children do their father." Thor stands next, and is the 
strongest of all the Gods ; he is the thunderer, the war-god. 
He wields a mallet, with which he has split many a giant's 
skull, for nothing can resist its force. Baldur, the good and 
beautiful, and Njord follow Thor in the list of divinities \ the 
former of whom appears to have been the patron of wisdom 
and eloquence ; and the latter the God of the sea — the Nep- 
tune of Rome. Of the Goddesses, Frigga and Freya were 
the chief. Frigga was the wife of Woden, and appears to 
have been no other than an apotheosis of mother-earth. 
Freya was the Goddess of generation, the Venus of the 
ancients ; and appears, like her southern sister, to have been 
possessed of resplendent beauty. " She is very fond," says 
the Edda, "of love ditties, and all lovers would do well to 

1 Prose Edda. Translated in Mallet's Northern Antiquities, p. 400-1, 
Bonn's edition. 


invoke her." But, contrary to the usual softness of her sex, 
though perfectly like a Scandinavian woman, she followed 
armies to battle, and claimed from Woden the half of the 

Loki occupies a prominent place in this mythology; but 
his position is ambiguous. Of a fine form and amazing dex- 
terity, he is generally in the company of the Gods, but he 
often brings them into trouble, and is feared and hated by 
them. He is called the reproach of Gods and men, and was 
in fact the devil of the north. 

But the Norsemen peopled their invisible world with other 
beings than the Gods. There were the Frost giants, and the 
mountain giants, the dwarfs, the elves of light, and the elves 
of darkness ; these giants being no other than the personified 
natural agencies which piled up around them mountains of 
ice and snow. Jotunheim is their abode ; they are described 
as an ill-doing race, and against them Thor wages a remorse- 
less war. The dwarfs were originally maggots, but, by the will 
of the Gods and the law of evolution, they assumed the human 
shape. They dwell in rocks and caverns, and brew mischief. 
The elves of light dwell in Elf-home ; but the elves of darkness 
live under the earth. " The elves of light are fairer than the 
sun, but the elves of darkness are blacker than pitch." 

The Druids venerated the oak ; the Scandinavians regarded 
the ash as peculiarly the tree of the Gods. " It is under the 
ash Yggdrasill where the Gods assemble every day in council. 
It is the greatest and best of all trees : its branches spread 
over the whole world, and even reach above the heaven. 
Near the fountain which is under this ash stands a very beau- 
teous dwelling, out of which go three maidens, named Urd, 
Vernandi, and Skuld — the Present, the Past, and the Future. 
These maidens fix the lifetime of all men, and are called 
Norns." 1 

Courage was the virtue which the Norse creed was designed 
to foster, and accordingly the joys of the future world were 
reserved for the brave. Valhalla is the spacious mansion of 
Woden, and thither go all who are slain in battle. It was 
peculiarly suited to be the dwelling-place of cut-throats and 
pirates. Every morning the heroes ride out to the court, and 
there hew each other in pieces ; but when meal-time ap- 
proaches, they remount their steeds, and return to dine in 

1 Prose Ed da. From Urd comes our word weird; and the weird sisters 
of Shakespere are the Norns of Scandinavia. 

a.D. -300-500.] THE NORSEMAN'S HEAVEN. 1 3 

Valhalla, all the hungrier for the deadly wounds they have 
given and received. The entire carcass of a boar is served as 
the daily dinner, and the flitches of this they wash down with 
deep draughts of mead, which they quaff from huge drinking- 
horns ; and so in eating and drinking, and with boisterous 
merriment, they pass the night. — The voluptuous Mussulman 
has peopled his paradise with dark-eyed houris of refulgent 
beauty, four of whom are assigned to every believer who falls 
in battle ; the Scandinavians, children of a colder clime, have 
introduced females into Valhalla too, but it is only " to bear 
in the drink, and take care of the drinking horns, and what- 
ever belongs to the table." "The heaven of each," says 
Moore, "is just what each desires ;" and it must be confessed 
that no more fitting entertainment than that we have described 
could be found for a company of freebooters. 

The altars of these rough Norsemen were originally in the 
open air, and were frequently stained with human blood ; but 
they had afterwards roofed temples, consisting of a nave and 
shrine, corresponding to the chancel of the Christian Church, 
where were the images of the Gods, ranged in a half circle. In 
the midst of them was the altar with the sacred fire, the 
blood-bowl and the ring, on which oaths were sworn. Sacrifices 
of every living thing were offered, not only of sheep and oxen, 
but of horses and swine. The chief w r as the priest. The 
offerings being made, the flesh of the victims was boiled in 
kettles in the nave, or less holy part of the temple, and feasting 
began then and there — broth and beef and horns of beer. 
The priest was the toast-master, — To Woden ! to Njord ! to 
Frey ! to Thor ! to the memory of their departed kinsmen ! A 
jovial religion, but what else could we expect ! 1 

Each year had its three religious festivals. The first was 
held at the winter solstice, and was called Jul. This being 
the beginning of the Scandinavian year, it was held in honour 
of Frey, the Sun- God, in order to procure, from his benign 
influence, propitious seasons. The second festival was in 
honour of the earth, and was fixed at the first quarter of the 
second moon of the year. The third, and greatest, was cele- 
brated in honour of Woden, early in spring, and was probably 
intended to incline the battle-god to be favourable to them in 
their piratical expeditions during the summer months. 2 

We may well believe that such a martial creed and such a 

1 Dasent's Burnt Njal. Introduction. 
- Mallet's Northern Antiquities. 


sanguinary worship would foster the marauding spirit of the 
Norsemen, and would lead them to think plunder and murder 
their proper trade. Unswerving valour was the only virtue 
which their religion encouraged : death in battle was the only 
doorway to heaven. It accordingly sent forth a race of rovers, 
who cruelly devastated almost every country of Europe, and 
drove the monks who lived along the coasts to introduce into 
their litany the pitiful prayer — " From the fury of the Norse- 
men, good Lord, deliver us." 1 The Picts may have carried 
this creed into our country, and it partly accounts for their 
relentless wars with the Britons, and afterwards with the Scots. 
The Saxons brought over the same Gods in their long ships to 
England ; and in their conflicts with the natives their valour 
and piety would be equally inflamed by the belief that Hengist 
and Horsa were the lineal descendants of Woden. The Nor- 
wegians and Danes, who during so many centuries infested the 
northern seas, and kept their firm grip on all the islands off 
our coast, and even on a considerable district of the mainland, 
must have left there not merely the mark of blood, but of the 
superstition which caused them so profusely to shed it. It 
was the year iooo before these corsairs were baptized into the 
Christian faith. 

The Scandinavian mythology wants the elegance of the old 
classic myths, but it is vaster in all its proportions. It is 
like a great Gothic cathedral beside a Grecian temple. 
Everything about it is colossal. The body of the giant 
Ymir was so huge that it formed the world. Thor with 
one stroke of his hammer cleaves a deep glen in the 
earth ; and, challenged to drink, takes such a draught as 
to cause the ebb tide along all the shores of the world. The 
serpent Midgard was so long that, like the snake in Hindu 
mythology, it encircled the globe ; and the open jaws of the 
wolf Fenrir stretched from earth to heaven. In such a 
mythology there were no pretensions to much spirituality, but 
neither was there any voluptuous sensuality. It was plainly 
the religion of a robust people and a rigorous clime. It was 
the reflex of the people's own thoughts and employments. They 
deified and worshipped what they admired. Man ever makes 
his Gods in his own image ; he trembles before the enlarged 
shadow of himself. 

Paganism has now been extinct in Great Britain for more 

1 A furore Normanorum, libera nos, Domine, — Note to Malle.'s Anti- 

a. D. 300-500.] VESTIGES. J 5 

than twelve hundred years ; but it has left behind it traces of 
its existence, which seem to be almost as indelible and endur- 
ing as those fossil vestiges which recall the memory of former 
worlds, with their strange types of animals and plants. Bel- 
tane, the title till recently applied to our Whitsunday, was the 
name of a Druidical festival; Yule, by which Christmas is still 
frequently denominated in Scotland, is identical with Jul, 1 a 
Scandinavian feast held at Christmas time, with joy and 
rejoicing, in honour of k Frei. Every time we speak of Tues- 
day, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, we commemorate a 
Scandinavian God. It has sometimes been said that our elves 
and fairies were imported from the east ; they are in truth the 
creations of the north, and it will be many centuries before 
they cease to haunt the minds of our children, and to give 
merriment to all by their gay and innocent gambols. The 
ghosts of Ossian still hover on the Highland hills, and walk in 
lonely churchyards; and many a Celt who could fearlessly 
rush up the heights of Alma, would not for worlds spend a U 
night alone in a haunted house, or approach and examine a// 
moonbeam flickering on the mound of a grave. The bards 
and senachies who once were to be found in every Highland 
hall were the descendants of the Druids, all whose science and 
history were in verse; and though poets are no longer enter- 
tained by kings and chiefs, yet the last of our minstrels has 
not sung. Philosophical historians have regarded the enor- 
mous power possessed by the priesthood of Rome in Western 
pAirope as in part an inheritance derived from their Druidical 
ancestors, for rude nations naturally transfer from one sacer- 
dotal caste to another the same veneration, influence, and 

It has been thought by some that every time we circulate 
the wine at table from right to left, we have respect to the 
Druids, who in all their movements most scrupulously followed 
the course of the sun. When we drink healths we show our 
Scandinavian descent. The Norsemen, as we have seen, were 
accustomed to pledge their Gods in their cups, more especially 
Woden, Thor, and Freya; and when Christianity was at length 

1 This becomes more apparent when we remember that in the Germanic 
and Northern tongues the J is pronounced like our V. 

" The fire that's blawn on Beltane e'en 
May weel be black gin Yule ; 
But blacker far awaits the heart 
When first fond love grows cule." 

Motherwell's Jeanie Morrison. 


introduced, unable to abandon the custom, they substituted in 
the place of these the names of Christ, the saints, and more 
especially of the archangel Michael, whom they regarded as 
the greatest warrior of the hosts of heaven. At these drinking- 
bouts they moreover pledged one another, and drank to the 
spirits of their departed heroes. 

Both the Scandinavian and Druidical priesthoods sanctioned, 
in cases of doubtful guilt, the trial by ordeal, in which it was 
understood there was a direct appeal to heaven to clear the 
innocent. This practice continued long throughout all Europe 
after the reception of Christianity. It gave rise to the chival- 
rous tournament, and degenerated into the duel, now happily 
abolished as the last vestige of a barbarous usage, founded on 
the impious presumption that Providence will interfere in our 
quarrels to right the wrong. 

Religions follow the universal law — they do not perish, they 
change. Druidism and Scandinavianism gradually merged into 
Christianity, but traces of the old faiths remained imbedded in 
the new. The first missionaries recognised and acted on a 
knowledge of this. The heathen temples were purged of their 
images, and consecrated as Christian churches. The standing 
stones were carved with Christian symbols. The pagan festi- 
vals were converted into Christian holidays, and probably in 
many cases the rude people hardly knew that they had turned 
from one religion to another. It is certain that under the 
name of Christians they practised for a thousand years pagan 
rites without knowing what they did. 


Eusebius, in the first chapter of his " Ecclesiastical History,'' 
frankly confesses that he was totally unable to find even the 
bare vestiges of those who had travelled the way before him ; 
" unless, perhaps," he proceeds to say, " what is only presented 
in the slight intimations which some in different ways have 
transmitted to us in certain partial narratives of the times in 
which they lived ; who, raising their voices before us, like 
torches at a distance, and as looking down from some com- 
manding height, call out and exhort us where we should walk, 
and whither direct our course with certainty and safety." 1 The 
1 Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, book i. chap. i. 

a. d. 600-800.] EARLY CHRONICLERS. 1 7 

person who undertakes to narrate the early ecclesiastical his- 
tory of Scotland must make a similar acknowledgment. It is 
not that there is any lack of materials wherewithal to build up 
a consecutive and most interesting narrative. There are 
ancient chronicles and monkish legends in great plenty ; but it 
is very evident to the searching eye of criticism, that in most 
of these falsehood is largely mingled with truth ; and that when 
Memory failed to record an event, Imagination was ever at 
hand to supply the. deficiency. In our estimate of these docu- 
ments, it must, moreover, be borne in mind that few of them 
were written till centuries after the period whose history they 
pretend to relate, and though some of them probably proceeded 
upon documents more ancient than themselves, and which are 
now lost, it is certain that a large number of the circumstances 
they narrate must have come to them through the uncertain 
channel of tradition. Gildas, our earliest chronicler, lived pro- 
bably toward the end of the sixth century ; but who or what 
he was, no one can certainly tell. The venerable Bede com- 
piled his valuable work in the beginning of the eighth century. 
To us, looking across the eighteen hundred years which have 
elapsed since the birth of our Saviour, three or four centuries 
at its very commencement may seem to be a short space ; as 
when standing on a high hill, and gazing over a wide landscape, 
many miles at its utmost limit appear contracted into a span. 
But the former is a mental, as the latter is an ocular deception, 
both arising from the same law, that distance lessens the ap- 
parent magnitude of objects. Three hundred years at the 
beginning of our era were quite as long as three hundred years 
now, and must have had the same effects — removing ancient 
land-marks, wearing out old ideas, and bearing down upon 
their muddy waters the memories of a myriad events, and de- 
positing them in the depths of the great sea of oblivion. With- 
out the aid of contemporaneous history, and forced to depend 
entirely upon unwritten tradition, how little could we know of 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and that little how dis- 
torted. All experience warrants us to say that no narrative is 
worthy of belief which is not vouched by a consecutive line of 
writers who lived at the time to which the records refer. 

It is true that many sidelights are let in upon the early his- 
tory of our country by the Latin writers who lived at the time, 
but their notices refer almost exclusively to political events. 
The Fathers of the Church, also, sometimes allude to the 
introduction of Christianity into our island, but they lived too 

VOL. I. E 


far from the scene to be accurately informed, and some of 
their passages have the evident marks of African warmth or 
Oriental exaggeration. The monks, within whose cloisters all 
the learning of Europe was for centuries locked up, and from 
whom countless legends and saintly lives have come down to 
us, were men of most lively fancy, who esteemed pious fraud 
to be a virtue, and were equally ready to forge a charter, or 
invent a miracle, if they could thereby benefit their monastery, 
or glorify the Church. The truth is, we must traverse almost 
a thousand years before we get beyond the region of fable, and 
reach the known land of historic truth. 

Although our antiquaries have spared no pains to recover 
and authenticate every fragment of the past, the mythical has 
been steadily gaining upon the historical, from the severe tests 
which every fact must now undergo before we recognise it as 
a reality. Buchanan claims much merit to himself for having 
discarded those legends which carry our history up to Scota, 
the daughter of the Pharaoh who was drowned in the Red 
Sea ; and thinks that he places our dynasty on a secure basis 
when he begins it with a certain Fergus, who is said to have 
reigned in Scotland when Alexander the Great w r as besieging 
Babylon. Lord Hailes begins his Annals fourteen hundred 
years after this, with the reign of Malcolm III., remarking, 
that " previous to that period our history is involved in obscu- 
rity and fable ; " and thus reduces eighty-five of Buchanan's 
kings to little better than shadows, dimly seen through the 
mist of years, albeit the grim portraits of some of them still 
adorn the walls of Holy rood. Tytler begins his admirable 
history two centuries later, at the accession of Alexander III., 
knowing that from that time he could build his narrative on 
unquestionable muniments. In like manner, the critical 
researches of the learned Niebuhr have reduced the history 
of Rome to less than a half of its former bulk. The same 
severity of criticism applied to the chronicles of Gildas, Nen- 
nius, Bede, Geoffrey of Monmouth, William of Malmesbury, 
Hector Boethius, Fordun, and the legendary lives of the legion 
of saints who crowd the calendar, would make whole chapters 
shrink into a single page. But notwithstanding this huge 
mass of superincumbent fable, we think it possible, in many 
cases, to separate the true from the false ; as, besides collateral 
circumstances, truth often possesses a kind of internal evi- 
dence of its own. Many undoubted facts connected with the 
history of the Scottish Church have been floated down to us 

a.d. 300-400.] WITNESS IN STONE. 19 

from a very remote antiquity, and to gather these up, and 
carefully preserve them, has always been a labour of Christian 

Seven cities of antiquity are said to have contended for the 
honour of having been the birthplace of Homer ; and no 
fewer than five of the apostles compete for the merit of having 
first preached the gospel in Britain. These are St James, 
Simon Zelotes, Philip, St Peter, and St Paul. Besides these 
five apostles, Joseph of Arimathea, who charged himself with 
the burial of our Saviour, has likewise been set up by the 
monkish historians as the first who planted Christianity on 
our shores. Leaving Apostolic times, there is a story of a 
certain Lucius, King of Britain, who, in the second century, 
sent an embassy to the Pope, desiring to be converted and 
baptised. Not to be far behind, Scotland boasts of a King 
Donald who, in the third century, with his whole kingdom, 
embraced Christianity. But both stories are so full of incon- 
sistencies and anachronisms, that we need have no difficulty 
in rejecting them as monkish myths. It is highly probable, 
however, that the religion of the Nazarene had already pene- 
trated into Britain, and had even been heard of in the forests 
of Caledonia. Tertullian declares that in his day parts of 
Britain, inaccessible to the Romans, had been subdued 
to Christ, and three British bishops are said to have at- 
tended the first Council of Aries in the year 314, and other 
three the Council of Rimini in 359. It is thought by some 
there is a witness in stone of the existence of Christianity in 
Scotland in the fourth century. " Nowhere in Great Britain," 
says Dean Stanley, " is there a Christian record so ancient as 
the grey weather-beaten column which now serves as the gate- 
post of the deserted churchyard of Kirk Madrine, on the bleak 
hill in the centre of the Rinns of Galloway, and bearing on its 
battered surface, in letters of the fourth century, the statement 
that it had marked the grave of three saints of Gallic name — 
Florentius, Viventius, and Mavorius." l The rudeness of the 
monument and its desolate site are in fine keeping with the 
future history of the country's faith. 

There is a legend in regard to the introduction of Christi 

1 Lectures on the History of the Church of Scotland, p. 85. See also 
Burton's History, vol. i. chap, iv., and Stuart's Sculptured Stones, vol. ii. 
The inscription below an encircled + on the one pillar is, Hie jacent scl 
et praecipui sacerdotes id est, Viventius, Mavorius — and on the other 
pillar is the name Florentius. 


anity into Scotland too characteristic to be omitted, more 
especially as it is connected with St Andrew, the patron saint 
of the nation. St Regulus, better known in our country as 
St Rule, is said to have been a Greek monk, who, being 
warned in a dream that he should take the bones of St 
Andrew, and depart with them to some unknown land in the 
far west, resolved, after some hesitation, to obey the Divine 
admonition. He accordingly gathered up what relics he could 
of the apostle, viz., an arm-bone, three fingers, three toes, and 
a tooth ; and, being accompanied by sixteen other monks and 
three devout virgins, he set sail, not knowing whither to steer 
his course. For two long years were this pilgrim band tossed 
about by tempests, as they skirted the sunny shores of the 
Mediterranean, passed the dreaded pillars of Hercules, and 
rode in the Bay of Biscay ; but, at last overtaken by a storm 
more violent than any they had yet encountered, they were 
whirled northward, and finally shipwrecked on the promontory 
of St Andrews. With difficulty they escaped from the waves, 
bearing with them the precious relics of the apostle. But on 
the shore there were dangers as well as on the sea. The 
whole country was covered with a vast forest, which was in- 
fested by wild boars ; and the Pictish inhabitants, painted 
pagans, were scarcely less to be dreaded. But the king was 
awed by the holy lives of the saintly- company, and in a short 
time he and his subjects submitted to the rite of baptism. 
Hard by the ruins of the once noble cathedral of St Andrews 
there still stands a lofty tower of undoubted antiquity. It is 
called St Regulus's tower. Some have imagined it belongs to 
the fourth or fifth century ; but with far greater probability it 
is ascribed to the twelfth, and believed to be part of the basilica 
known to have been erected by one of the earliest bishops of 
the See. The legend belongs to the year 369. 

We cannot dismiss this legend without remarking, that 
many eminent historians are inclined to assign to the British 
churches an Eastern rather than a Roman origin. Neander is 
of this number. 1 They are led to do so by the supposed fact, 
that for many ages the Scotch Church agreed much more 

1 General History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. v. § I, 
Bonn's Edition. No authority is higher than Neander's ; and yet we have 
doubts of the Eastern origin of the British Church. It was more likely 
that the Roman missionary would follow in the steps of the Roman 
soldier ; and the dependence was not felt, just because it was the twelfth 
century before the Roman hierarchy managed to stretch its dominion so 

A.D. 400-20.] ST. JEROME AND PELAGIUS. 2 1 

closely with the Greek than the Latin Church in many of its 
rites ; and claimed for itself an Asiatic origin, always appealing 
to St Polycarp, St Mark, and St John, as the sources of the 
traditions it enjoyed. It is possible there may be a grain of 
truth in the story of St Rule. 

It was in this age a controversy arose in the Church regard- 
ing Grace and Free Will, than which none is more memorable, 
both from the interesting questions it involved, and the illus- 
trious disputants it brought upon the field. This controversy 
arose out of certain opinions published by Pelagius, and de- 
fended with great logical acumen by his disciple Caelestius, one 
or both of whom are said to have been of British or Scottish 
birth. When the controversy was at its hottest St Augus- 
tine, the great opponent of Pelagius, was joined by an invalu- 
able ally in St Jerome. This monk was perhaps the most 
learned man of his day, but certainly the worst-tempered and 
most vituperative; and he seems to have anticipated other 
learned men in his thorough contempt for the Scotch. In the 
abuse which he lavished upon Pelagius, it is thought we have 
a clue to the place of his birth. It would appear Pelagius was 
a portly man, and St Jerome seizes upon this to taunt him 
with being swollen with Scotch porridge. 1 The same Father, 
in his preface to his third book upon the prophet Jeremiah, 
again breaks out against Pelagius, calls him a Highland terrier, 
and declares that, being sprung from the nation of the Scots, 
in the neighbourhood of the Britons, he ought, like Cerberus, 
to be well beaten with a spiritual club, and, with his master 
Pluto, consigned to eternal silence. 2 Others of his adversaries 
spoke of him in the same abusive way. Orosius says he had 
broad shoulders, a thick neck, a fat face, was lame, and blind 
of an eye. 3 Augustine alone had the magnanimity to do him 

1 Nee recordator stolidissimus et wScotorum pultibus pra^gravatus. (Proof, 
in lib. i., Com. in Hierem.) 

2 " Hie tacet, alibi criminatur, mittit in universam orbem Epistolas Bibli- 
nas, prius auriferas, nunc maledicas, ipseque mutus latrat, per Alpinum 
[Albinum] Canem, grandem et corpulentum, et qui calcibus magis saevire 
possit, quam dentibus. Habet enim progeniem Scoticae gentis, de 
Britannorum vicinia ; qui juxta fabulas poetarum, instar Cerberi, spirituali 
percutiendus est clava, ut ceterno cum suo Magistro Plutone, silentio con- 
ticescat." The persons indicated in this passage are doubtful. Cardinals 
Norris and Baronius and Archbishop Usher have thought that Pelagius 
and his disciple Caelestius are referred to ; other scholars hold that it is to 
Rufinus (the master of Pelagius) and Pelagius himself that Jerome alludes. 

3 "Latos humeros gestantem robustamque cervicem, proferentem etiam 
in fronte pinguedinem, mutilum et fxovb(pda\iAOi>y (Oros. in Apol. de 
Arbitrii Liber : contra Pelae.) 


justice. "He was a good man, and an eminent Christian," 
said the Bishop of Hippo. " I have loved him, and I love 
him still. 1 

I Augustine spoke only the truth when he said Pelagius was a 
virtuous and pious man. A layman, and probably a monk, he 
had spent the greater part of his life in seclusion. Away from 
Hhe world he had not felt the power of its temptations ; 
endowed by nature with an easy temperament, he had scarcely 
known the turbulence of evil passions, and hence had been led 
J to deny our depravity, and to think perfect virtue attainable by 
man. St Austin was a man of another mould, and had lived a 
very different life. Possessed of violent passions, which in 
early youth he had been unable to control, he had run a wild 
career of debauchery and unbelief. It was not without an in- 
ward agony that he had passed from death unto life. He felt 
it was only the grace of God that could work such a change ; 
that it was only the mercy of God that could save such a 
sinner. In the heart and history of these two great men we 
may thus find the seeds of their respective systems. But 
something must also be attributed to their marked diversity of 
intellect. The controversy is not yet settled. It was revived 
in many of its essential points in the contending tenets of 
Arminius and Calvin ; and probably it will divide the Christian 
Church till the end of time. 

We have now reached the fifth century without being able to 
discover the footprints of the apostle who first preached the 
gospel in Britain. Yet we have now indubitable evidence that 
it had been preached, and that many had received it with all 
gladness. History has not recorded the event. The small 
seed had been sown in secret, which was to become the 
greatest of all trees, and overshadow with its branches all the 
nations of the world. But though we cannot distinctly trace 
the introduction of Christianity to our shores, there is no need 
of resorting to mystery or miracle to account for it. Within a 
century from the death of the Nazarene, He could not but be 
heard of in Britain ; for the good tidings of the new religion 
had been too much talked of everywhere not to be heard of 
here. It was startling to see how the old worn-out religions 
fell to the ground before the religion of Jesus, as Dagon had 
fallen and been broken to pieces in the presence of the ark. 
The Romans talked of this as they sauntered about the Forum, 

1 "Vir, ut audio, sanctus nee parvo proefectu Christianus, bonus ac 
prsedicandus vir." (St Aug. de Pcceat. Mer.) 

A.D. 30-420.] ROMANS IX BRITAIN. 23 

when they met at the baths, and when, reclining at dinner, 
they observed the old fashion of pouring out libations of wine 
to their Gods. Even those who despised the new faith, and 
esteemed it an odious superstition, could not refrain from 
speaking of it, for it had become a great fact. Thus the 
religion of Jesus flew — His name went out through all the 
earth, and His words to the end of the world. 

At this period there was a constant intercourse between 
Rome and Britain. Roman traders were continually touch- 
ing on the coast, and penetrating into the interior. Roman 
legionaries were in the islands by thousands, from the rude 
miles up to the accomplished centurio and the all-powerful im- 
perator. Roman colonies had been formed in several districts 
of the south. All these must have come into daily contact 
with the natives, and we know that by that contact these 
natives were rapidly civilized. Amongst all these traders 
legionaries, and colonists, was there not one Christian, who 
would seize upon some propitious opportunity to tell an in- 
quiring Briton of the great prophet who had recently appeared 
in Judea ? When everything else was discussed, was this sub- 
ject never once mentioned ? When the naked barbarians were 
told how to clothe their persons, and how to plough their fields ; 
when they were generously presented with the seeds of many of 
those plants which now enrich our gardens with the fruits of 
Italy and the Euxine; when Roman temples, villas, and baths 
began to rise, and Roman luxury to be everywhere introduced, 
was there no channel by which that new religion, which had 
already filled Rome with its martyrs and confessors, could find 
an introduction too ? 

We have reason to believe, that before the expiry of the 
second century a considerable proportion of the Roman popu- 
lation had become Christian. Many of the soldiery were pro- 
fessors of the new faith. In a campaign against the Marco- 
manni, when Marcus Antoninus was emperor, the army was 
surrounded by the enemy, and reduced to the most desperate 
condition for want of water. They were relieved from their 
distress by a sudden storm of thunder and rain, which struck 
terror into the barbarians, and gave refreshment to them. By 
many this was attributed to the prayers of the numerous 
Christians in one of the legions, which was ever afterwards 
known as the thundering legion} We mention this, not to 
claim it as a miracle, but simply to prove that many Chris- 

1 Mosheim, II. Cent., part i. chap. i. 


tians were in the ranks, and that, of those who were stationed 
in Britain, there may have been some who, like good soldiers 
of the cross, began to subdue the island to Christ. 

In order to feel this fully, we must bear in mind the dif- 
fusive character of Christianity, and the missionary spirit which 
animated all its first converts. Judaism was narrow and ex- 
clusive, and the descendant of Abraham rejoiced in the 
thought that he and his countrymen alone had the hope of 
salvation. Paganism was easy and tolerant, and the polite 
Roman, while himself preferring the worship of Jupiter 
CajDitolinus, had no fault to find with the Egyptian at the 
shrine of Ra. It was thought there was even a propriety in 
every province having its own divinities ; and as the army 
added country after country to the empire, the senate made no 
scruple of admitting its Gods to the Pantheon. But Chris- 
/tianity was a religion of a different type ; it still bore upon its 
"l)row the old Hebrew commandment — " Thou shalt worship 
<-4he Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.' , It had no 
'toleration for other Gods than the true God. It had no 
belief in any other way of salvation than the one way. But 
with this intolerance of other faiths, it combined a liberality 
worthy of its divine Author, who makes His sun to rise and 
His rains to descend upon every created thing. It did not 
seek to confine its benefits to a few ; it desired to extend them 
to all. It aimed at the empire of the world. The commission 
had been given to preach the gospel to every creature, and 
every new disciple felt that a necessity was laid upon him to 
communicate to others the joyful secret himself had received. 
The very exclusiveness of the system gave to this diffusive 
spirit in its converts an additional intensity, for it was believed 
that men could not escape if they neglected this great salva- 
tion. The narrowness of the channel increased the depth and 
impetuosity of the stream. Every Christian was in haste to 
bring others to Christ, lest, through delay, they might be eter- 
nally lost. Thus this new and divine religion united at once 
the earnestness of Judaism with the wide catholicity of the 
pagan creed. 

From this we may well believe, that if in the crowd of 
foreigners who visited Britain there was one Christian, he 
would not be silent regarding the faith he had embraced. 
Men did not then wait till they were invested with apostolic 
authority or ministerial character before they would open their 
lips about the love of Jesus — they went everywhere preaching 


the gospel. It is highly probable it was some pious legionary 
or some converted trader who rirst told our ancestors of the 
way to heaven. His name is not written in history but hfir^ 
influence is living and operating still. The work of conver- 
sion would at first be slow, just as we see it is now in Africa)* 
India, or China. In general it requires centuries to turn a 
people from an old faith to a new one ; and it is rare indeed 
that a nation is born in a day. But the work being begun 
would go steadily on, for Druidism, with its cruel rites, could 
not ultimately withstand the mild and merciful religion of 
Jesus. Every new convert gained would be in reality a new 
apostle set apart for the preaching of the Word; and the 
massacre of the Druids in Mona, like the burning of the 
temple at Jerusalem, would remove a great obstacle to 
the triumph of the cross. Thus strangely is the wrath 
of man overruled to subserve the purposes of an eternal 

It is more than probable that Christianity made its way to 
Scotland from the south. With converts in one end of the 
island, it could not but be heard of in the other. It has been 
supposed by many that the persecution by Diocletian, which 
raged throughout the whole empire in the end of the third cen- 
tury, would lead many British Christians to take refuge in the 
mountains beyond the Roman wall, and thus introduce Chris- 
tianity into our country. There is good reason, however, to 
believe that under the mild government of Constantius, Bri- 
tain suffered very little from this persecution, and though the 
names of two or three martyrs are preserved, we know that in 
general, while churches were thrown down, life was respected 
and spared. There was nothing to occasion a flight to the 
north. But a persecution was not required to scatter through- 
out the island the seed of the Word. The natural intercourse 
betwixt the north and the south was enough to effect it. We 
may safely say that, within fifty years after Christianity was 
known in Middlesex and Devon, it would be heard of at least 
in Clydesdale and Perth. What more likely than that some 
converted Briton, burning with apostolic ardour, would carry 
to his Celtic brethren in the north the message of mercy, and 
make our glens for the first time to echo the high praises of 

It is evident that, though Christianity was early known in 
Caledonia, it was a long time before it made any visible pro- 
gress. In the sixth century the Northern Picts are still spoken 


of as heathens, 1 and probably it was a hundred years more ere 
the bulk of the people were baptized into Christ. Instead of 
wondering at this, we should rather be surprised that it made 
any converts at all among a people so rude as our ancestors, 
all whose habits and propensities were opposed to the peace- 
ful and forgiving spirit of the gospel. In order to understand 
the difficulties with which it had to struggle, and the beneficial 
change it has wrought, we must try and discover what we can 
of the state of our country during the first centuries of the 
Christian era. 

The central district of the kingdom was covered with one 
vast forest, called the Caledonian wood, 2 vestiges of which 
still remain in those extensive peat-mosses we still meet with, 
and from which we occasionally dig huge trunks of blackened 
oak, the remains of trees which stretched out their branches to 
the sky when the Romans were entrenched at Ardoch and 
Dunglass. This forest gave shelter to enormous wild boars, 3 
and formidable packs of wolves, which were not extirpated till 
more than a thousand years after the time we refer to. Those 
parts of the country which were not covered with wood were 
either bare mountains or impassable fens, through which the 
naked aborigines swam or waded, with the mud and water up 
to their waist, with the same agility as the wild duck splutters 
through the reeds of a marsh ; but the heavy-armed legionaries 
could cross them only on mounds of earth, which were formed 
with infinite labour and expense. The population of such a 
country must have been extremely sparse ; and we probably 
exceed the truth when we estimate it at two hundred thou- 
sand, less than half of the present population of Glasgow 
alone. The soil, not yet subjected to the plough, could not 
sustain more. 

They had no other habitation than miserable huts formed of 
wattles and the branches of trees. They had no clothing but 
the skin of a wild beast thrown across their shoulders ; but 
they painted their naked bodies, as savage tribes frequently do, 
either from feelings of vanity, or to make themselves look more 
terrible to their enemies in battle. Gildas declares they were 
more anxious to shroud their villanous faces in bushy hair than 

1 Gentiles barbari. (Adamnani Vita Columboe.) 

2 " Ad occidentem Vararis habitabant Caledonii, proprie sic dicti, quorum 
regionis partem tegebat immensa ilia Caledonia sylva." (Ricardi Cori- 
nensis, " De situ Britannice," lib. i. cap. vi.) 

3 Muckross was the ancient name of St Andrews, which means the 
" boars' promontory." 

A.D. 400.] ST. N INI AN. 27 

to cover other parts of their bodies with decent clothing. 1 
They lived by hunting and pasturing flocks of sheep and 
cattle ; but war seems to have been their principal trade. 
They led, in short, a savage life, and savage life has no varie- 
ties ; in all countries and periods it is the same. One of our 
antiquaries declares the Dalriad Scots to have been savages in 
the extreme, with habits differing little from those of the Hot- 
tentots ; 2 and St Jerome, whose love for our nation we have 
already seen, affirms, that when a young man in Gaul, he had 
seen some Scots regaling themselves with human flesh ; 3 and 
that it was known they had a fine appreciation of the most 
delicate morsels. He does not explain how he managed to 
witness such a spectacle. 

Such was the people among whom Christianity had now to 
make its way. It could be no triumphal march, but a slow 
and painful progress over opposing prejudice and passions. 
The contrast between the present and the past, to which 
Christianity has largely contributed, is among the proudest of 
the many trophies it has won. 


St Ninian 4 is the first preacher of Christianity in Scotland 
whose name has come down to us. The time and place of 
his birth are doubtful ; but, like almost all the saints of early 
times, he is declared to have been of royal blood ; and we 
know it was in the beginning of the fifth century that he 
laboured among the Galwegians and southern Picts. He is 
briefly mentioned by Bede "as a most reverend bishop and 
holy man of the British nation, who had been regularly 
instructed at Rome in the faith and mysteries of the truth." 5 

1 Hist., sect. 19. 2 Pinkerton. (See his Inquiry.) 

3 Quid loquar de ceteris nationibus, cum ipse adolescentulus in Gallia 
Scotos, Britannicam gentem, humanis vesci carnibus viderim ? Lib. ii., ad 
Jovian : cap. vi. 

4 Frequently corrupted into Rinian, Trinian, and Ringan. It is to this 
saint Friar John addresses his matins : — 

Awake, O Reinian ; ho, awake ; 

Awake, O Reinian, ho : 
Get up, you no more sleep must take ; 
Get up, for we must go. 

Rabelais, by Sir Thos. Urquhart. 
8 Ecclesiastical History, book iii., chap. iv. 


His biography was written by Abbot Ailred in the twelfth 
century ; but it is meagre of facts, and abounds with miracles, 
and very little reliance can be placed upon it. He is said to 
have gone to Rome in his youth and studied there, and the 
Pope learning that in the western parts of Briton there were 
some people who had not yet received the faith, and others who 
had heard it from heretics, sent him back to his native country 
to convert the heathen and confound the heretics. On his 
way home he visited St Martin of Tours, then at the height of 
his renown. When he returned, we are told " there was great 
joy among all, and wonderful devotion, and the praise of 
Christ sounded out on all sides." Straightway "he began to 
root up what had been ill planted ; to cast down what had 
been ill built; and to lay the foundations of a true faith." 1 
Having fixed his residence in Galloway, the holy man set about 
building a church of stone on the shores of the Solway, assisted 
by masons he had brought from France. This is said to have 
been the first stone structure erected in the country, and if so, 
for this alone, Ninian deserves the eternal gratitude of his 
countrymen. From its white and glistening aspect, seen over 
the bay of Wigton, it was called in Latin Candida Casa, in 
Saxon, Hwitherne, a designation which has survived in Whit- 
horn till the present day. While the church was yet building, 
Ninian received intelligence that his friend and patron, St 
Martin, had migrated to heaven, upon which he piously 
resolved to dedicate his church to his honour. 2 This enables 
us to fix the date of its erection, for we know that St Martin 
died about a.d. 400. 

Having set everything right among the Galwegians, he 
resolved upon a mission to convert the southern Picts, who 
are described as still worshipping deaf and dumb idols. It 
was probably into Stirling and Perthshire that he penetrated, 
and he had only to come to conquer. " To the font of the 
saving laver run rich and poor, young and old, men and 
maidens, mothers and children, and, renouncing Satan with 
all his works and pomps, they are joined to the body of the 
believers by faith, by confession, by the sacraments. " 3 Rather 
startling language to be used of the barbarian Picts, who at 
that very time were waging a relentless war against the Britons, 
butchering all, sparing none. " The barbarians," said they 
pitifully, " drive us to the sea, the sea drives us back to the 
barbarians." It was among such wild marauders Ninian 

1 Vita Niniani Auctore Ailredo Revallensi, c. ii. 

2 Ibid. c. iii. 3 Ibid. c. vi. 

A.DL 400-30.] PALLADIUS. 29 

laboured, and one cannot but applaud his heroism ; but it is 
evident that while he may have persuaded many to submit to 
the rite of baptism — sometimes not difficult with savages — he 
did not manage to change their nature, or to inoculate them 
with the peaceful spirit of the gospel. But the unhesitating 
biographer proceeds to say that " he ordained presbyters, 
consecrated bishops, distributed ecclesiastical dignities, and 
divided the whole land into parishes." l It is difficult to 
believe that the rude Galwegians were infected with Pelagian- 
ism early in the fifth century, as is plainly insinuated ; still 
more difficult to believe that a whole hierarchy existed at that 
period among the Picts. It is evident the Abbot of Rievaulx 
has transferred the sentiments and facts of his own age to 
those of Ninian, as is plain from this one circumstance, that 
parishes were not created in Scotland till the eleventh or 
twelfth century. 

But enough remains for the glory of St Ninian. Enough 
surely to have been the pioneer of Christianity in Scotland — 
to have been the first to preach the gospel to the Picts — the 
first to teach the Galwegians to build their houses of stone. 
We cannot but believe he was a good and heroic man, who 
laboured hard in his Master's work among barbarous tribes ; 
and though he cast the good seed on rough and rocky ground, 
some of it found root in the crevices, and sprung up, and in 
future years bore its fruit. His name is for ever associated 
with the origin of Scottish piety. Canonized by Rome, and 
celebrated by monkish fables, he is more to be envied in that 
his memory is embalmed in the hearts of the Christian 
children of those pagan barbarians amongst whom he toiled 
and died, and in that he will be kept in everlasting remem- 
brance by the villages, churches, and wells called by his name. 

We now meet with another historic name ; but its light is of 
a phosphoric kind, shewing itself, but nothing beyond. "In 
the eighth year of the reign of Theodosius," says Bede, 
" Palladius was sent by Celestinus, the Roman pontiff, to the 
Scots that believed in Christ to be their first bishop." 2 This 

1 Vita Niniani Auctore Ailredo Revallensi, c. vi. 

2 " Ecclesiastical History," Book I. chap. xiii. The words of the 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are : — " A.D, 430. This year Palladius the bishop 
was sent to the Scots by Pope Celestinus, that he might confirm their 
faith. " An amusing controversy has been waged as to whether " first " in 
Bede is to be understood in respect of time or position. Some episcopal 
writers have maintained that primus episcopos does not mean the first 
bishop who ever entered Scotland (or Ireland), but indicates that Palladius 
was sent to be primate. 


statement is confirmed by the " Anglo-Saxon Chronicle/' by 
Nennius, and other authorities, so that there is no room to 
doubt its substantial truth. But the difficulty is, as to who 
are the Scots referred to. Notwithstanding that all our older 
historians, and some of our modern ones, appropriate Palladius, 
we have little hesitation in believing that his mission was to 
Ireland. In 43 1 there was only a small and almost unknown 
colony of Scots in Argyll. Hibernia was their proper seat ; 
and it was thither the Roman legate went. It must be con- 
fessed, however, that there are strong traditions which speak 
of his having visited Scotland, and of having been buried at 
Fordoun in the Mearns. In the churchyard of that parish 
there are still pointed out the remains of a building, which is 
said to have been a chapel dedicated to the apostle, and to 
which pilgrimages were once made from every part of the 
country. Not far away there is a well, still called Paldy's well ; 
and fountains regarded as sacred may retain a particular desig- 
nation for many centuries. 1 From these circumstances we 
are inclined to think with Stillingfleet " that Nennius has hit 
upon the true account of the matter, viz., that Palladius was 
sent by Celestine to convert the Scots, but finding no great 
success therein, he was driven on the coasts of Britain, and 
there died \ and after his death St Patrick was sent on the 
same errand. 2 

Scotland, Wales, and Picardy all claim St Patrick for a son. 
It seems certain that the great Irish apostle was no Irishman. 
Kilpatrick on the Clyde is thought by many antiquaries to 
have been the place where he first saw the light, and it is 
certainly curious that " Succat," a name bestowed on the saint, 
is also the name of a property in the district. The year 372 
is given as the date of his birth, and wherever born, he is said 
in early youth to have been kidnapped and carried off by an 
Irish chief, and kept for years as a swine-herd. Recovering 
his liberty, he went to the south of France, and studied 
theology under the famous St Martin of Tours. At the age of 
sixty he returned to Ireland, the house of his bondage, and 

1 Statistical Account of Scotland. Fordoun, 1795. 

2 Antiquities of the British Churches, chap. ii. The words of Nennius 
are : — "During his (Patrick's, in captivity) continuance there, Palladius, 
the first bishop, was sent by Pope Celestine to convert the Scots. But 
tempests and signs from God prevented his landing, for no one can arrive 
in any country except it be allowed from above ; altering, therefore, his 
course from Ireland, he came to Britain, and died in the land of the Picts." 
Hist, of the Britons. 

a. D. 563. J ST. COLUMBA. 31 

preached the gospel there with such success, that he is said to 
have written 365 alphabets, founded 365 churches, and or- 
dained 365 bishops, besides 3000 presbyters. 1 We may safely 
conclude this to be an exaggeration, but, notwithstanding the 
fabulous atmosphere which encompasses his life, enough of 
reality remains to warrant us to rank him as the first and 
greatest of the benefactors of Ireland. His memory must once 
have been deeply venerated in Scotland from the number of 
places which are called by his name. 

We must now overleap another whole century, during 
which everything connected with the Christianity of Scotland 
is buried in gloom. We have no traces of those who suc- 
ceeded Ninian and Palladius in their missionary work, and 
kept alive among the Picts and the Britons the faith which 
they had received ; but we have every reason to believe that 
they had their successors, and that the altar-fire which they 
kindled was never allowed to go out. Tradition has handed 
down the names of St Serf and St Ternan, but nothing 
authentic is known regarding them. Neither have we authen- 
tic records of any others who, during this period, may have 
laboured in other parts of the Scottish field. After St Ninian, 
Columba is the next whose name has emerged from the dark- 
ness of the age in which he lived, and the still deeper darkness 
of the ages which succeeded. But with this celebrated saint 
begins the most interesting period in our ancient ecclesiastical 

St Columba, or Colum, is happy in having two biographers, 
who were both his successors in the Monastery of Iona, and 
lived not very far from his own day. Cumin wrote sixty-nine, 
and Adamnan eighty -three years alter the death of Columba, a 
period during which the memory might easily preserve ever) 
important event connected with a celebrated man, and which 
gives us room to imagine that both biographers may have con- 
versed with old men who could tell of having seen Columba 

1 In the text we have given the stoiy as it is found in Dr Mackenzie's 
Life of St Patrick, who quotes Nennius as his authority. — Lives and 
Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation, by Geo. 
Mackenzie, M.D. In Bonn's translation of Nennius, the passage stands 
thus : — "He wrote 365 canonical and other books relating to the faith. 
He founded as many churches, and consecrated the same number of 
bishops, strengthening them with the Holy Ghost. He ordained 3000 
presbyters, and converted and baptized 12,000 persons in the province of 
Connaught." History of the Britons, § 54. We leave the reader to 
decide whether the 365 ABC's or canonical books are the more likely. 


in their youth. Yet this short interval was enough to surround 
the life of the saint with a mythical haze, so that his bio- 
grapher Adamnan professes to relate only the prophecies 
uttered, the miracles wrought, and the divine visions enjoyed 
by the holy abbot. We shall cease to wonder at this when we 
remember that in those dark days the power of working 
miracles was thought essential to the character of a saint ; 
and probably some of these good but superstitious men, by a 
very natural self-deception, believed they really possessed the 
power, as our kings and queens once flattered themselves that 
their touch would cure the scrofula. It was in this very age 
that the Pope gravely wrote to Augustine in England not to 
glory too much in his miracles. 1 

Columba was born at Gartan, among the wilds of Donegal, 
in the north-west of Ireland, in the year 521. His father was 
Fedhlimid M'Fergus, and his mother Aethnea M'Nave, both 
of whom were of princely descent. We are told that even 
from his boyish years he was addicted to the study of the 
Holy Scriptures. He was first of all placed under the care of 
a pious presbyter named Cruinechan ; and he afterwards 
obtained a fuller knowledge of Christianity from Finian, 
bishop of Clonfert, and the famous St Ciaran, who, it appears, 
had preached before this time to the Dalriad Scots in Argyll, 
and who has bequeathed his name to the parish of Kilkerran. 
About the year 550 he is said to have founded the ancient 
monastery of Durrow. But notwithstanding this pious act he 
was implicated in some of the bloody feuds of his day, and 
excommunicated by an Irish Council. Thus cast out as an 
outlaw and accursed, he left Ireland in 563, being then 42 
years of age, and probably resolved to wash out the stain of 
blood by a life devoted to monastic and missionary work. 
Setting sail in an open boat of wicker-work covered with hides, 
and accompanied by twelve companions, he reached the 
Island of Iona on the evening of Whitmonday, and landed in 
a little pebbly bay called Port-na-Churaich, at a spot which 
tradition has preserved, and where an artificial mound, faintly 
resembling an inverted boat, is said to be fashioned after the 
pattern of the currach in which the saint navigated the sea. 2 

Conal MacComgail was at this time King of the Dalriad 
Scots, and Brude of the Picts ; the former of whom gifted to 
Columba the island upon which he had settled his colony of 

1 Bede, book i. chap. xxxi. 

2 Statistical Account of Scotland — Kilfinichen and Kilviceuan, 1795. 

a. a 563-98.] BRUDE AND BROICHAN. 33 

pious men. ] Here he founded his monastery, afterwards so 
famous in the history of the Church. But Columba did not 
confine himself to the solitary rock ; he frequently visited the 
mainland, and appears to have acquired a considerable 
ascendancy over its monarchs. The Irish Scots being al- 
ready Christians, it was among the Picts that he chiefly pro- 
secuted his apostolic work. Christianity appears to have 
hitherto made no progress amongst them ; they are described 
as " heathen barbarians ;" and to Columba belongs the high 
honour of having converted them to the faith. Adamnan 
records a visit which the saint made to King Brude at his royal 
fortress near Inverness, to which he probably travelled along 
the romantic chain of lochs and streams by which the tourist 
still passes from Iona and Staffa to the banks of the Ness. 
Some of the incidents in the missionary enterprise illustrate 
the superstitions of the Picts, the character of the apostle now 
bent on their conversion, and the love of the miraculous in 
his biographer. 

The king, in his idolatrous pride, and instigated thereto by 
his high priest Broichan, shut his gates against Columba, but 
the holy man touched them with his finger, making the sign 
of the cross, and this acting, like the talismanic open sesame in 
the Arabian tale of Ali Baba, they flew open of themselves. 
On another occasion, while the saint was celebrating the 
praises of God, some Druids coming near endeavoured to 
hinder him, lest the sound of the divine praise from his mouth 
should be heard among the pagan people ; but Columba, per- 
ceiving this, began to sing the forty-fourth psalm with such 
energy, that his voice appeared like thunder, and filled the 
king and his people with intolerable fear. We are further 
informed, that in that district there was a fountain, the haunt 
of demons, in which all who washed were afflicted with some 
dreadful disease, so that the people from superstitious fear paid 
it divine reverence. 2 To this fountain Columba repaired, and 
the Druids expected to see him smitten with leprosy. But the 
Saint, having first invocated the name of Christ, washed in its 
waters his hands and his feet, and the demons being thus 

1 Pinkerton (see his Inquiry) maintains that Columba got a gift of Iona 
from the Picts, then in possession of the Hebrides. But Ritson and the 
editor of the Origines Parochiales say, the grant came from the Scotch 
king, and the greatest weight of authority seems to be on their side. 

- It is possible the reference here maybe to the mineral waters of Strath- 
peffer. It is to be noted that, as usually happens, Adamnan degrades the 
deities of the Ticts into demons. 

VOL. I. C 


driven out, it was ever afterwards as famous for curing diseases 
as it had previously been for inflicting them. 1 By such 
miracles King Brude was converted to the new faith. 

It is difficult at first to divine what could have led Columba 
to fix his monastery in lona — a barren rock washed by a 
tempestuous sea. We cannot believe that he was floated 
thither by the random winds and waves, and that chance de- 
cided the spot whence letters and religion were afterwards to 
be carried over the whole country. Leaving the north of 
Ireland, and turning his prow a little to the east, he would 
naturally have touched first upon the coast of Wigton or the 
Mull of Cantyre. Iona is due north from Ireland, and is 
distant from it upwards of a hundred miles. At that period 
there must have been constant intercourse between the Scots 
of Ireland and the Scots of Argyll, and the navigation of the 
sea which separated them been well understood. The truth 
is, that though we wonder now that such a sequestered isle 
should be chosen for such a purpose, it was in accordance 
with the notions and practice of the age. Religion generally 
made her abode in some island off the coast, whether to give 
greater safety to the defenceless priests, or more perfect seclu- 
sion from the din of the world. Druidism had its chief seat 
in Anglesey. Christianity found its first resting-place in 
Iona. Lindisfarne was the earliest centre of the Northumbrian 
Church ; and Lismore was the ancient residence of the bishops 
of Argyll. 

Iona, from first to last, has borne no fewer than thirty 
names. 2 Of these the most common are I, Iona, and Icolm- 
kill. I is the name generally used by the natives, and signifies 
simply an island. Iona is probably a form of Ii-shona (pro- 
nounced I-hona) and signifies Holy Island. Icolmkill is " the 
island of Colum of the Cells." It is about three miles long, by 
a mile and a half broad. Its surface is in general low and 
uninteresting, rising into a few irregular heights, and its coast 
is indented by small rocky bays with wonderfully translucent 
water. 3 It is separated from the Island of Mull by a narrow 
strait of about a mile in width, and from the nearest point on 
the mainland by about thirty-six miles of water. The almost 

1 Adamnani Vita Columba}. The word in the original is magi, but 
magi is just the Latin equivalent of the Celtic Druidhs. 

2 Origines Parochiales Scotiae — Iona, — where the whole thirty are 
recorded ; many of these, however, are just different forms of the same 

3 Iona, by the Duke of Argyll, is an interesting monograph of the island. 

a.d. 563-98.] IONA. 35 

incessant jumble of the sea, caused by its currents and tides 
being broken by numerous headlands, and lashed by squalls 
from the hills, must have made its navigation dangerous in 
open currachs in the days of Columba. In our day, the 
summer tourist, taking a steamboat at Oban, can glide safely 
and swiftly through the deep waters of the Sound of Mull ; 
catch a glimpse of the ruined holds of the ancient Lords of 
the Isles, beetling on the summit of lofty crags ; emerge on 
the bosom of the wide Atlantic; gaze with wonder on the 
basaltic columns and resounding caves of StafTa ; and finally 
feel himself " treading," with Dr Johnson, "that illustrious 
island which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, 
whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits 
of knowledge and the blessings of religion." 1 

In this island Colum built his cell. 2 It must have been a 
very rude structure, formed, as we know it was, of logs, and 
thatched with reeds ; and we must not confound it with those 
ruins which still give a religious aspect to the island, and which 
belong to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Columba now 
applied himself almost entirely to the government of his little 
community, and the remainder of his life was mainly spent in 
the midst of it. The time of his companions appears to have 
been divided between devotion, the copying religious books, 
and the labours of the field ; and we read with intense interest 
of the Saint, in his old age, going out in his car to see them 
at work and give them his blessing. His log-monastery was 
built, round a court and included a church or oratory, with an 
altar and recess ; a hospitium, this being either a house for the 
entertainment of strangers, or the common name for the 
separate cells of the monks ; a dwelling-house for the saint 
himself; and a barn for laying up the produce of the fields. 
The whole was surrounded by a rude rampart or fence. The 
recluses were called to their devotions by a bell — no doubt 
similar to those oblong Celtic bells still to be seen in anti- 
quarian museums. Here for thirty- four years Columba lived 
and laboured, training men for missionary work ; unless when 
he occasionally visited the mainland to found churches, or 
water those he had already planted. So abundant were his 
labours in this field that he acquired for himself the name of 

1 Tour to the Hebrides. 

2 We have many names of towns beginning with the syllable " Kil," 
which signifies that these were anciently the cells or churches of par- 
ticular saints. Kilmarnock is the cell of Marnock, Kilpatrick the cell of 
Patrick, and so of Kilbride, Kilkerran, Kilninian, Kilblane, &c, &c. 


Coiumkille, which signifies Colum of the Churches. On the 
last day of his life, and when he was now seventy-seven years 
of age, he was occupied copying the Psalter, and finished his 
earthly labours with the words of the thirty-fourth psalm 
— " They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." 
When the bell sounded the hour for midnight prayers, the 
good old man, rigid in the observance of his own rules to the 
last, though suffering from an illness which made him feel that 
his death was at hand, rose from his dormitory, hurried to the 
church, and prostrated himself before the altar ; but the effort 
was too much, and he sunk to the floor. His faithful servant 
Diarmid, and others who had come to the church to worship 
like himself, were soon beside him and lifted him up, but he 
had only strength to raise his hand in token that he blessed 
them before he died. His sorrowing followers wrapped his 
body in clean linen, and committed it to the dust, there to 
rest, says his biographer, " until in luminous and eternal 
brightness he should be raised again/' 1 His remains were 
allowed to rest near his monastery for a century, so that Iona 
may fairly claim his dust — the first of the much princely and 
priestly dust afterwards deposited in that most ancient of 
cemeteries — but his bones, or what was thought to be his 
bones, were afterwards carried to Ireland, and back again to 
Scotland ; and where they now repose it is impossible to 

Columba must have been a very remarkable man. The 
influence which he obtained over the barbarous kings of the 
Scots and the Picts — the conversions he made, and the 
churches he founded — the veneration in which he was held 
by his followers and friends — and the virtual primacy he pos- 
sessed over the Christianity of the whole country, are ample 
evidence of the fact. He is described by his admiring 
biographer as "of angelic appearance." Like some of Homer's 
heroes, he is celebrated for the powers of his voice, which is 
said to have been audible at the distance of nearly a mile. 
The sonorous psalm-singing of the saint would come echoing 
down the lonely glens like the noise of a distant waterfall. 
Next to strength of arm, strength of lungs appears to have 
been held in repute in those rude ages ; and the thundering 
commands of the captain, the shouts of the warrior, and the 
declamation of the preacher, had their strong influence in 

1 In luminosa et seternali resurrect u rum claritudine. Adamnani Vita 

a.i). 598.] CHARACTER OF COLUMBA. 37 

compelling obedience and generating awe. But we would 
wrong the memory of Columba did we imagine it was merely 
by dint of vociferation that he obtained his ecclesiastical 
supremacy. He was a man of letters ; a hymn-writer ; he 
spent a large portion of his own time in transcribing the works 
of the ancients, and compelled his recluses to employ them- 
selves in the same way ; and there is a general tradition that 
there was within the monastery of Iona a noble library, in 
which the learned once dreamt there might be found the lost 
books of Livy. 1 The profound love with which he was 
universally regarded proves that he must have possessed many 
amiable qualities ; and the story of the old mare that brought 
milk to the monastery, coming and laying her head on his 
breast and weeping, a few days before his death, presents to 
us in a fabulous form a touching picture of the fact. But it 
would appear that the imperious and passionate temper which 
had involved him in feuds and battles in his younger years 
never entirely forsook him. We read of him giving chase to a 
robber, who escaped his wrath by rapidly pushing off in his 
boat from the beach, but the saint followed him till the water 
was up to his knees, cursing all the while, and his curses were 
so effective that the boat was upset in a squall. 2 

The death of Columba was not followed by the decay of his 
religious community. For many years Iona w r as the light of 
the western world, and sent forth men, eminent for their learn- 
ing and piety, to found bishoprics, abbacies, and universities, 
in every quarter of Europe. Beautifully illuminated MSS., the 
work of their hands, can still be identified by their Celtic 
interlacings in many monastic and college libraries. But the 
monks did not enjoy that undisturbed safety and repose which 
we might imagine they would on their solitary rock. It is 
recorded that in the year 744, a number of the community 
perished in a violent storm. In 801 the monastery was burnt 
to the ground by the Norse pirates. In 806 the Vikingr again 
landed on the devoted island, and cruelly slaughtered sixty- 
eight of its inhabitants. In 985 Iona was visited by the 
Danes, who slew the abbot and fifteen of his monks. Hitherto 
these wild Norsemen, who were still worshippers of Woden, 

1 Gibbon, in a note to the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 
alludes to this. Boethius says that yEneas Sylvius (afterwards Pope Pius 
II.), when in Scotland, intended to have visited the library in search of 
the missing decades, but was prevented. Notwithstanding the tradition, 
we may be permitted to doubt the extent of this library. 

2 Vit. Col. Adamnani. 


burnt churches aud slaughtered priests without mercy and 
without remorse. But they received Christianity early in the 
eleventh century, and in their next descent on the Hebrides 
we have evidence of its power. The Norse Sagas inform us 
that King Magnus entered their church — probably St Oran's 
Chapel in its original form — but immediately came out again, 
filled with religious awe, and gave orders that none should dare 
to violate its sanctity. 

In the twelfth century Rome was everywhere triumphant in 
Scotland, and Iona passed into the possession of Cluniac 
monks. Its pure and primitive faith had departed ; its renown 
for piety and learning was gone ; but the memory of these sur- 
vived, and it was now regarded with greater superstitious 
reverence than ever. Long before this it had been made the 
burial-place of royalty, numerous pilgrimages were made to it, 
and now kings and chiefs began to enrich it with donations of 
tithes and land. The walls which are now crumbling were 
then reared : and the voyager beholds these venerable ecclesi- 
astical remains rising from a bare rock and in the midst of a 
wide ocean, with feelings akin to those with which he regards 
the temples at Thebes standing half buried amid the sands of 
the desert. 

Contemporary with Columba was St Mungo, the patron 
saint of Glasgow. While there is no doubt of the existence of 
such a person, unfortunately his life is involved in fable. He 
is said to have been the son of a British chief called Ewen, 
and of Thaney, a daughter of Leudon, a King of the Picts. 
This royal lady, becoming pregnant when she ought not, was 
exposed on the sea in an open boat by her angry father, and 
carried by the wind and waves to the coast where the town of 
Culross now stands. Here the infant Kentigern was born. 
St Serf, whom tradition points out as the apostle of the 
Orkneys, was living in the neighbourhood, and by him the 
little bastard was baptized. As the child grew up, he gave 
early indications of piety and genius, and St Serf taking a par- 
ticular liking to him, carefully initiated him in the mysteries of 
the faith, and being in the habit of calling him " Mongah" 
which in the Norse tongue signifies " dear friend," from this 
arose the appellation of Mungo, by which the Saint is now 
generally known. l 

Such is the legendary origin of St Mungo, and quite as 

1 Vita Kentigerni Auctore Jocelino, also Vita Kentigerni imperfecta 
Auctore ignoto. See Forbes' S. Ninian and S. Kentigern. 


legendary are the monkish narratives of his episcopal labours 
and penances ; as his standing in the river every morning, 
however cold, till he recited the whole psalter, and then 
emerging as pure as a milk-white dove, and sunning himself 
on the neighbouring hill. But under all this rubbish there 
must have been real worth, so that when the lofty cathedral 
which now crowns the metropolis of the West was reared six 
centuries after, so precious was the memory of his piety and 
toils that it was called by his name. 

Columba is said to have visited Kentigern "at the place 
called Mellindonor," then a translucent stream, but now a 
filthy city sewer. The monkish biographer tells how they 
exchanged pastoral staffs when they parted. 1 The only inci- 
dent which marred their perfect happiness was that some of 
the Highland caterans in the company of St Columba thus 
early developed their propensity to sheep-stealing, by catching 
and killing a ram of the southron saint ; but the theft was for- 
given by the amiable Mungo, and the ram's head turned into 
stone in memory of the event. 2 The whole of the district round 
Glasgow at this period, except near the river, was a forest of 
wood and bush-land \ and the legend which represents St 
Mungo as " compelling the wolf of the woods to join with the 
deer of the hills in labouring in the yoke of his plough," may 
preserve a memorial not merely that these animals then 
abounded there, but that the Saint helped to extirpate them, 
by felling the forests and introducing agriculture. Many of 
the first missionaries in our own country undoubtedly did much 
to foster the peaceful labours of the field, as our modern 
missionaries teach the islanders of the Southern Seas to till, 
sow, and reap \ and thus Christianity and civilization went 
hand in hand. There is no record of St Mungo having any 
successors at the Molendinar Burn till the twelfth century, 
when the Cathedral was founded, with its bishop and canons, 
its numerous altars and officiating priests. But no doubt he 
had his successors, though there was no historian to chronicle 
their life and labours. 

After another century St Cuthbert can be discerned, with a 
saintly halo around him, amid the darkness of the Strathclyde 
and Northumbrian kingdoms. Originally a shepherd boy in 
Lauderdale, visited by dreams and visions of angels, we after- 
wards find him as a monk at Dull in Strathtay, next at Ripon, 
next at Melrose, and finally at Lindisfarne, where, about 664 
1 Vita Kentigerni, c. xxxix-xl. 2 Ibid. 




a.d., he became abbot. His principal field of labour was 
among the shielings on the Cheviot Hills and the upland 
moors of Northumberland. No toil wearied him, no danger 
appalled him. 1 And as the reward of his labours he is now 
honoured as the patron saint of Durham Cathedral, and of 
many other churches both in England and Scotland. These 
are the lights which glimmer in the Cimmerian darkness of 
this period, and the dawn was yet a long way off. But it was 
coming, and there were faint indications of its approach. The 
influence of Iona was beginning to be felt both in the north 
and south. Already there were churches at Abernethy, Deer, 
and elsewhere, which so grew in reputation that they began to 
rival the parent monastery ; and missionaries from the wave- 
washed island in the Atlantic had gone to Northumberland 
and laid there the foundations of a new Christianity in 
England. But in order to understand the true character 
of St Columba and his successors at Iona, and in the other 
monasteries they founded, we must now glance at the general 
history of the Church, and inquire what changes it has under- 
gone, and what institutions it has fostered since it was planted 
by the apostles six centuries before. 

These six centuries, which are almost a total blank in the 
history of the Church in Scotland, teem with the most 
important events in the history of the Church at large. 
During them the apostles had lived, and laboured, and 
died. Jerusalem had been sacked, the temple burnt up 
with fire, and Judaism for ever destroyed. Gnosticism had 
sprung up, which, mingling the notions of the later Platonists 
with the doctrines of the gospel, introduced into the Church 
a multitude of extravagances which it required many centuries 
to eradicate. A long line of illustrious men had arisen as 
apologists and defenders of the faith. Clemens, Ignatius, 
and Polycarp had well illustrated the Christian life, and then 
heroically died the martyr's death. Tertullian had devoted 
his native energy, and Origen had put forth his prodigious 
learning, to exonerate, explain, and diffuse Christianity. The 
Church had passed through ten great persecutions, and 
emerged from the furnace purer and more powerful than 
ever, with her noble army of martyrs and confessors, who, 
under every form of torture and death, had exemplified the 
strength of Christian constancy. These days of weeping 
were succeeded by a time of rejoicing. Constantine obtained 
1 Bede. Vita. St Cuth. Hist. Eccles. 


the imperial purple, and, by a series of edicts, recognised 
Christianity as the religion of the empire. Magnificent 
churches now began to rear themselves, and churchmen to 
grow ambitious, powerful, and rich. But internal troubles 
arose ; the eternal divinity of the Son was called in question ; 
and it required all the quenchless vigour of Athanasius, and 
all the imperial authority of the Council of Nice, to settle the 
Homoousian doctrine. Arianism was not extinguished when 
Pelagianism arose ; and in a battle of giants, the great Austin 
maintained those opinions which are now embalmed as ortho- 
dox in our creeds. 

The Christian worship had not existed so long without 
contracting many corruptions. The rite of baptism, at first 
so simple, now required sponsors, chrism, the sign of the 
cross, and a number of other superstitious observances. The 
bones of the martyrs began to be regarded with religious 
veneration, and the catacombs were ransacked to find them. 
As many of the Jews who were converted by the apostles still 
fondly clung to the temple service, and insisted on the efficacy 
of circumcision, so many of the converts from paganism were 
unable to shake off their pagan practices, or to renounce alto- 
gether their former Gods. It was thought necessary to humour 
them, and to assimilate in some degree the worship of Jesus to 
the worship of Jupiter. A multitude of fasts and feasts were 
introduced, some of them almost professedly in imitation of 
the pagan festivals, which had been abolished only in name. 
The splendid ritual of heathenism was borrowed, and Christian 
churches became the theatres of a sensuous worship. Some 
of the pagan temples had been converted into Christian 
churches \ and Bacchuses, with a little change in the drapery, 
were worshipped as Virgins. 1 The communion-table gave 
place to the altar, and wax tapers shed their dim religious 
light through splendid edifices, adorned with statues and 
pictures, and odorous with incense. The consecrated bread 
was regarded as possessing extraordinary virtues \ transubstan- 
tiation, though not defined, was virtually believed; and the 
host was piously elevated as an oblation by the priest in the 
celebration of the eucharist. Beatified saints were raised to 
the place of the Dii Minores, and solemnly invoked by the 
faithful. The cross, apart from the great Victim who died 
upon it, became the object of worship; and the supposed 
presence of a piece of its true wood stirred up the lowest 
depths of the religious nature. 

1 Dr Middleton's Letter from Rome. 


It was within the same period that diocesan Episcopacy 
and Monachism took their rise ; and we must premise some 
examination of these institutions, as they are intimately con- 
nected with the estimate we are to form of the character and 
history of the Columbites. 

It is now agreed by almost all ecclesiastical historians, that 
in apostolic times the presbyter and bishop was one and the 
same person. The two terms are indiscriminately applied 
to the same persons in too many passages in the New Testa- 
ment to admit of a doubt in regard to the matter. " Presby- 
ter " appears to have been more peculiarly a term of respect, 
as applied to the primitive pastors ; and " bishop," the name 
indicative of their office as superintendents of the Christian 
flock. The second century, however, had not run half its 
course before we discover traces of a distinction between 
them. How it at first arose we are left to conjecture; 1 but 
there are some circumstances which may guide us to causes 
not far from the truth, and which afford indubitable evidence 
that the distinction, narrow at first, became broad and well 
defined only after the lapse of ages. Originally every Chris- 
tian congregation was governed by a number of presbyterian 
bishops? with equal rank and authority. In process of time, 
expediency would suggest the propriety of one of these acting 
as president, to moderate the councils and execute the resolu- 
tions of the whole. An office which at first was probably 
temporary, subsequently became permanent, and gradually 
appropriated to itself the title of bishop ; while the appellation 
of presbyter was left to designate those other office-bearers 
who had now sunk into a subordinate rank. 3 But even in the 
third century, every congregation had its own bishop, and very 
generally that congregation assembled in a private house, so 
that its adherents could not be very numerous, nor the power 
of its bishop very extensive. 4 

These congregations at first almost invariably belonged to 
the cities and towns ; but when the tide set in more strongly 
in favour of Christianity, and Christian communities were 

1 Jerome says it arose from quarrels among the presbyters prompted 
by the devil. (Titus i.) 

2 Gibbon calls them " episcopal presbyters." (Decline and Fall of the 
Roman Empire, chap, xv.) 

3 This is substantially the account of the matter given by Mosheim, Gib- 
bon, Neander, Giesler, Baur, and every writer of any authority. 

4 Campbell's Lectures on Ecclesiastical History may be advantageously 
consulted on this point. 

a.d. 100-600.] RISE OF EPISCOPACY. 43 

gathered in the villages, the town-bishops, unable to superin- 
tend them themselves, appointed suffragans to take the spiritual 
oversight in their stead, and these were called dwrepiscopi, or 
country-bishops. This was the first great step to diocesan 
episcopacy ; for the country-bishops were dependent on their 
grander brethren in the towns ; and when they were abolished 
and presbyters substituted in their place, we have the sub- 
ordination of the presbyters to the bishop, which modern 
episcopacy implies. 1 The bishops now appropriated to them- 
selves some of the most solemn functions of the ministerial 
office. They alone could consecrate the baptismal chrism ; 
they alone could confirm ; they alone could convey, by the 
imposition of their hands, the mystic virtue necessary to con- 
stitute the apostolic priest. All this, however, was not brought 
about without a struggle and without time ; and the memory of 
the original parity of the offices long remained in the churches. 
Even in the beginning of the fifth century, Chrysostom and 
Jerome could assert the primitive equality, or rather identity, 
of the bishop and presbyter. 2 

The same causes which raised the bishop above the pres- 
byter, in process of time elevated the metropolitan bishop 
above his compeers in the provinces ; and led the bishop of 
Rome to aspire at the establishment of a monarchy in the 
Church. The dominating greatness of the imperial city, and 
the wealth which flowed in upon the Roman Church, when 
it basked in the sunshine of imperial favour, gave ground 
upon which to rear such a lofty ambition. During the 
fourth and fifth centuries, the bishops of Rome were ear- 
nestly straining at this; encouraging the provincials, when 
they imagined themselves wronged, to appeal the case for the 
decision of the Roman See, asserting, though at first in mode- 
rate terms, their ecclesiastical supremacy as the successors of 
Peter ; and by a dexterous policy they so managed it, that in 
the seventh century, when Christianity was just beginning to 
make progress in Scotland, their victory was almost complete. 

The rise and progress of mo?iachism had an equally im- 
portant influence on the destinies of the Church. The 
ascetic spirit, of which monachism was but a development, 
is peculiar to no age or religion. It was exemplified in the 

1 Mosheim. Century I. Xeander, vol. iii. sect. 2, Bonn's Edition. It 
was the councils of Sardica and Laodicea that abolished the rural bishops. 

2 Chrysostom, horn, xi., on Timothy, at the beginning. Jerome, in his 
commentary on the Epistle of Titus, and Ep. ioi ad Evangelium. 


Essenes of Palestine before the advent of our Saviour, and it 
is to be seen in the devotees of Hinduism in our own day. 
Under the Christian system Egypt became its fruitful birth- 
place. Stimulated by the example and renown of Paul and 
Anthony, many thousands of men and women flocked to the 
deserts of Thebes and the islands of the Nile, that, away 
from the world, they might soar to the higher regions of the 
spiritual life. The monastic institution, though a plant 
peculiarly suited to the climate of the East, was transplanted 
to the West, where it speedily took root, and made most 
vigorous growths. Monasteries were reared on the banks of 
the Tiber ; caves found for hermits by the lake of Subiaco ; } 
and Martin of Tours, who from a soldier became a hermit, 
was followed to his grave by two thousand monkish mourners. 
All the learning and eloquence of the day were exhausted 
in eulogies on the anchorite life. Athanasius first intro- 
duced Egyptian monks into Rome. Chrysostom opened his 
golden mouth in their praise. Jerome gave to the institu- 
tion the weight of his own example ; and even Augustine 
was so completely carried away with the spirit of the time, 
that he wrote treatises in its defence and commendation. 

It is impossible to doubt but that monachism in its first 
origin contained much that was good. Many pure spirits 
fled to the cloister really to escape the contagion of the 
world. Many enthusiastic spirits fled thither, sincerely be- 
lieving they might there cultivate a sublimer piety. The 
extravagances of the East were little known or practised in 
the West, and the rule of St Benedict, who lived in the sixth 
century, and to which almost all the monasteries of Italy 
and Gaul submitted, is dictated in a liberal spirit, consider- 
ing the age in which he lived. Under this rule excessive 
mortifications were avoided ; no limited quantity of food 
was prescribed ; and even a little wine, out of consideration to 
human frailty, was allowed. The monks were not suffered 
to be idle ; they were to devote their time to devotion, to 
reading, to the education of youth, to the labours of the 
field, or some useful handicraft. Accordingly, we will not 
wonder that many eminent bishops emanated from these 
Benedictine schools ; and that enthusiastic men left cloisters, 
where sober sense was mingled with superstition, to carry 
the torch of truth among idolatrous nations, and proved 
most useful and successful missionaries. 

1 It was by this lake that Benedict had his first cell, and near him was 
the grotto of another monk named Romanus. 

a.d. 100-6C0.J MONACHISM. 45 

At first these monks were all laymen, and belonged to no 
ecclesiastical denomination. They were simply people who 
had bound themselves by a vow to renounce the world, to live 
in poverty and chastity, and to devote their time to prayer, 
penance, meditation, and industrial toils. The monastic life 
was open to the laity of all conditions and of both sexes ; and 
the sanctity of the cloister was frequently abused by the slave 
fleeing thither to escape from his master, and the legionary to 
avoid the rigours of discipline and the dangers of the field. 
But it was impossible to debar the monks for ever from ecclesi- 
astical oflices and emoluments. In the very earliest times we 
frequently read of some holy hermit reluctantly brought from 
his cell and placed on the bishop's throne, amid the applauses 
of the people ; and eventually, by the policy of the popes, the 
whole body was constituted into a regular ecclesiastical order, 
which ever afterwards successfully competed with the Seculars 
for the honours of the Church and the veneration of the 
populace. It is needless at present to trace the progress of 
monachism farther. It was not long before the original nature 
of the institution was forgotten, and vices of the most odious 
kind crept into the cloister. 

Such were some of the changes which early Christianity 
underwent, and some of the institutions which sprung up in 
the Church. It would, however, be a violation of all historic- 
probability to suppose that they simultaneously affected every 
portion of Christendom. It would be absurd to liken them to 
the enactments of a legislature, carried into execution in every 
part of the kingdom on a fixed day. They were rather 
customs, which generally require ages to mature, and ages 
more to spread. Taking their rise in particular centres, they 
slowly extended themselves towards the extremities. l Emanat- 
ing from Alexandria 2 or Rome, it was only by degrees they 
were known and adopted in the distant provinces. In those 
countries between which there was a constant intercourse, the 
contagion of the new example would be proportionally rapid ; 
in those which were cut off from the rest of the world, it would 

1 This is substantially the view which has been taken by Bishop Light - 
foot : — "They show that this creation (that of the Episcopate) was not so 
much an isolated act as a progressive development, not advancing every- 
where at a uniform rate, but exhibiting at one and the same time dirk-rent 
stages of growth in different churches." Epis. to Philippians. Essay 
on Ministry, p. 225. 

2 It is, however, curious that relics of Presbyterianism lingered in 
Alexandria till the fourth century. Hieron, Ep. 146, Ad. Evan. 


be proportionally slow. The churches which lay along the 
shores of the Mediterranean quickly felt every important 
impulse, heard the news of every fresh heresy that was 
broached, and had amongst them imitators of every innovat- 
ing practice that was introduced ; while the religious communi- 
ties that were buried in the woods of Germany, or lost in the 
marshes of Caledonia, might be unconscious of the changes 
that were going on in the great world for centuries after. 

Before the first century was expired, Christianity was 
preached along the whole northern coast of Africa, and the 
southern coast of Europe ; it required nearly two centuries 
more to come to our country, and other three centuries still 
before it was generally embraced. During the greater part of 
this period, the Roman empire extended to our island, and 
thus an intercourse was kept up between it and the Continent, 
but that intercourse almost entirely ceased when the legions 
were withdrawn. "The dark cloud/' says Gibbon, in his own 
eloquent way, " which had been cleared by the Phoenician dis- 
coverers, and finally dispelled by the arms of Caesar, again 
settled on the shores of the Atlantic, and a Roman province 
was again lost among the fabulous islands of the ocean." 1 

When our country was thus lost to the civilized world, and 
its rude population shut out from all intercourse with the cen- 
tres of Christian influence, we shall not wonder that the wave 
of innovation, which surged so rapidly along the Mediterranean, 
took centuries before it broke upon our shore. The impas- 
sable gulph between the presbyter and the bishop might, and 
in fact must have been, fixed in Italy for many long years 
before it was known and believed in here. The monasteries 
of Europe and the East might have become hot-beds of super- 
stition and vice, and yet a pure monachism, once introduced 
into Scotland, might there be preserved. While the marble 
churches of Constantinople and Rome were perfumed with in- 
cense, and adorned with images, incense and images might be 
alike unknown in the log churches of Caledonia. Even when 
the Scottish clergy learned the new ideas that were abroad, 
they might decline to adopt them. It is ever difficult to carry 
new fashions from one country to another, more especially 
when there is little or no intercourse between them ; and all 
the weight of legislation sometimes fails to abolish a custom 
to which the people have become attached. 

These remarks may elucidate the controversies which have 
1 Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap, xxxix. 

A.D. 100-600.] SCOTCH MONACHISM. 47 

been waged in regard to Columba and the Columbites. A 
question has been raised as to whether they were monks. 
They undoubtely were. The life and institutions of Columba 
and his successors abundantly attest this. But they might 
be monks without having contracted the vices of mona- 
achism. Having embraced the system in its purity, they 
might preserve it pure in Icolumkille, Abernethy, and Dun- 
keld, when it had become utterly corrupt in the great monas- 
teries of the Continent. 

There is good reason to believe that it was so ; and that in 
Scotland, far removed from Roman influences, there was a 
form of monachism, with little of its usual austerity and few 
of its prevalent vices. The monastery at Iona appears to 
have been little different from a college, in which men w r ere 
trained for missionary work; and as occasion required, 
they left its quiet cloisters for the active duties of life. That 
Columba had entirely escaped those superstitious notions 
which had arisen in Italy and the East long before his day it 
were foolish to suppose, and his biographies will not allow us 
to believe. The rules by which he governed his community ; 
the scrupulosity with which he repaired to the church at all 
hours of the day and night to perform his devotions ; his pre- 
ference for celibacy, if not his entire prohibition of marriage, are 
not in accordance with Protestant ideas of what is scriptural 
and right. The love of the miraculous so conspicuous in his 
biographers, shows that this fond deception had as deeply 
tainted the disciples of Columba as the disciples of Benedict. 

In what school he acquired his monastic notions it is impos- 
sible to determine ; but we know that of all ecclesiastical insti- 
tutions monachism spread the most rapidly, and that a hun- 
dred years sufficed to carry it from the extreme east to the 
extreme west of Christendom. Both St Ninian and St Patrick 
are said to have been related to St Martin ; and as we find it 
difficult to believe that the Bishop of Tours had such an exten- 
sive Scotch connection by matrimony or blood, we resort to 
the supposition that the relation arose from their having bor- 
rowed his ideas of the Christian life. As the monachism of 
the East was toned down to suit the different men, manners, 
and climate of the West, so the monachism of France would 
naturally undergo a still further modification to suit the rude, 
half-Christianised population of Ireland and the Hebrides. 
The exotic from Egypt took root in Iona ; but with a thin 
soil, and under a northern sky, it never showed the same 


prurient luxuriance of fruit or of foliage as in warmer and 
more southern lands. 

The ecclesiastical polity of Columba and the Columbites 
has also been a matter of dispute, and a passage in Bede has 
brought the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches into colli- 
sion. "That island" (Iona), says the venerable historian, 
" has for its ruler an abbot, who is a presbyter, to whose direc- 
tion all the province, and even the bishops, contrary to the 
usual method, are subject, according to the example of their 
first teacher, who was not a bishop, but a presbyter and 
monk." x That bishops should be subject to a presbyter or 
mass-priest, as the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" styles Columba,- 
is abhorrent to every idea of episcopal propriety, and accord- 
ingly the candid simplicity of Bede has caused much confusion 
in the episcopal camp. 

It was indeed unusual in the sixth and seventh centuries 
for bishops to be under the jurisdiction of a presbyter ; and yet 
we need not greatly wonder that such a thing should have 
occurred in a province so far removed from ecclesiastical in- 
fluence as Scotland then was. Though the bishop began to 
rise above the presbyter in the second century, many genera- 
tions lived and died before the difference between them was 
well defined, and even in the fifth century writers referred to 
their original and essential identity. In all probability, Chris- 
tianity was introduced into Ireland — whence it was brought to 
Scotland — before the great gulph was fixed between the two 
orders f and if such an ecclesiastical polity was brought to the 
country, it might continue there unchanged for centuries, un- 
influenced by the great changes which were going on from 
without. Even in our own day, notwithstanding the ease and 
rapidity of transit, and that men are everywhere passing to and 
fro, and increasing knowledge, some districts of the Highlands 
are almost inaccessible to the ideas and influences of the 

1 Ecclesiastical History, book iii., chap. iv. 

2 " a.d. 565. Columba, a mass-priest, came to the Picts and converted 
them to the faith of Christ ; they are dwellers by the northern moun- 
tains Now, in Iona, there must ever be an abbot, and not 

a bishop ; and all the Scottish bishops ought to be subject to him, 
because Columba was an abbot and not a bishop." (Anglo-Saxon 

:} Nennius says St Patrick ordained 365 bishops in Ireland. These 
must simply have been ministers or Christian workers. In the Episcopal 
Church of Ireland, at present, there are only 12 prelates. 


south. The very poverty of the country would help to keep 
the bishop on a par with the presbyter, for it is only in opulent 
kingdoms, and where the Church is supported by the State, 
that Episcopacy has obtained its fullest development. 

The fact, as narrated by Bede, though perhaps unusual, was 
perfectly natural and likely in the circumstances. Iona was a 
monastic seminary for training men for the work of the minis- 
try. As opportunity presented, they left their retirement, and 
took the oversight of Christian flocks, thereby becoming vir- 
tually bishops. That such men should differentially look to 
the abbot, under whom they had been reared, for advice and 
direction was very natural ; and thus a kind of primacy would 
arise, and that more readily from the respect assigned to 
monks in those days, and the fact that the monastery of Iona 
was the parent of so many of the churches of Scotland. 1 


In the year 597 Augustine arrived in the island of Thanet, off 
the coast of Kent, with a train of some forty monks. The 
story of the incident which led to his mission, if not true, is at 
least interesting. Gregory, before his elevation to the pontifi- 
cate, had observed some youths in the Roman slave-market, of 
a complexion fairer than common ; and inquiring of what 
nation they came, was told they were Angles. " Not Angles, 
but Angels," he replied, "if they were only Christianized." 2 

1 Dr Grub candidly and fully admits that the early ecclesiastical govern- 
ment of Scotland was abbatial and presbyterian, and not episcopal. 
Vol. i. p. 134-43- 

2 Bede's Ecclesiastical History, book ii. chap. i. The Pope appears to 
have been an inveterate punster. The whole story as told by Bede is as 
follows : — " * Alas ! what pity,' said he, 'that the author of darkness is 
possessed of men of such fair countenances; and that being remarkable 
for such graceful aspects, their minds should be void of inward grace. ' He 
therefore again asked what was the name of that nation? and was 
answered that they were called Angles. ' Right,' said he, ' for they have 
an angelic face, and it becomes such to be co-heirs with the angels in 
Heaven. What is the name,' proceeded he, ' of the province from which 
they are brought ? ' It was replied, that the natives of that province were 
called Deiri. * Truly are they De iraf said he, * withdrawn from wrath 
and called to the mercy of Christ. How is the king of that province 
called ? ' They told him his name was JElla ; and he, alluding to the 
name, said, ' Hallehijah^ the praise of God the Creator must be sung 
in those parts.'" We have helped the pontificial wit by italics; and 
we may remark that the puns are nearly as pointed in the English trans- 
lation as in the Latin of Bede. 

VOL. I. D 


When raised to the chair of St Peter, he remembered the 
nation of the captive youths, and sent Augustine to convert 
them. For nearly a hundred years from the time we speak of, 
the Anglo-Saxons, incessantly recruited by new swarms of ad- 
venturers, had been gradually gaining upon the Britons ; and 
now they had driven the miserable remnants of that people 
into the mountain fastnesses of Wales. With the British 
people had well-nigh perished the British Church. The 
Saxon invaders were heathens, worshippers of Woden and Thor ; 
and now for the second time must the people of England be 
converted to the Christian faith. 

Augustine managed to ingratiate himself with Ethelbert, 
King of Kent, and obtained permission to establish himself 
in the royal city of Canterbury. The work of conversion 
prospered in his hands, and in due time the Roman bishop 
constituted him primate of England, sent him the pall, and 
with it certain Roman wares, coverings for the altars, orna- 
ments for the churches, vestments for the priests, and relics of 
the holy apostles and martyrs. 1 On inquiring a little more 
narrowly into the religious state of the kingdom, the new Arch- 
bishop discovered that the clergy of the British Church who 
still survived did not keep Easter at the proper time, adminis- 
tered baptism without the consecrated chrism, and in other 
respects violated the unity of the faith. He therefore held a 
conference with their bishops and doctors to persuade them to 
conformity, and when his arguments failed, he wrought a 
miracle to convince them, and when his miracle had no 
more influence than his arguments, he uttered some enig- 
matical words, to the effect that if they w r ould not hold com- 
munion with their friends, they w T ould bring down upon 
themselves the vengeance of their enemies. Soon after this 
threat, or prophecy, as we may choose to understand it, the 
King of Northumbria marched upon Chester, made a great 
slaughter of the Britons, and mercilessly massacred many 
hundreds of monks who had come from Bangor to pray for 
their countrymen. "About twelve hundred," says Bede, 
" that came to pray are reported to have been killed, and 
only fifty to have escaped by flight." 2 It was the first act 
passed against non-conformists in England. 

Meantime, a succession of learned and pious abbots ruled 
in the monastery of Iona ; and missionaries began to issue 

1 Bede's Ecclesiastical History, book i. chap. xxix. 

2 Ibid., book ii. chap. ii. 


from its cloisters, to carry the light of Christianity not merely 
to Scotland, but to England and some of the countries of the 
Continent. There is good reason to believe that a close con- 
nection was kept up between Iona and Ireland, and that the 
religious colony still depended in a great measure on the 
parent country for a supply of students and recluses. The 
populations of Ireland and the north-west of Scotland were 
in fact identical at this time, and were known by the general 
appellation of Scots, so that it is often impossible to determine 
to which of them historical facts are to be referred. Columba 
was succeeded by Baithne, one of the twelve who accompanied 
him from Ireland. After him followed Laisren, Fergna, and 
Segenius. While Segenius was abbot, Oswald, King of North- 
umberland, who had been recently baptized in Scotland, sent 
to the monastery a request that preachers should be sent to 
instruct his subjects in the faith. The story of this mission is 
told by Bede, and we shall therefore follow his narrative : it 
belongs to the year 635. 

The first Celtic apostle who went to Northumberland was a 
man of an austere disposition, and making no progress in con- 
verting the people, he returned to his monastery, and reported 
that the task was hopeless, as the Northumbrians were uncivil- 
ized men, and of a stubborn and barbarous disposition. What 
was to be done was now seriously debated, when an aged 
monk named Aidan rose up and said, addressing himself to 
the brother w r ho had abandoned the missionary field, — " I am 
of opinion, brother, that you were more severe to your un- 
learned hearers than you ought to have been, and did not at 
first, conformably to the apostolic rule, give them the milk of 
more easy doctrine, till being by degrees nourished with the 
Word of God, they should be capable of greater perfection, 
and be able to practise God's sublimer precepts." A speech 
so sensible at once pointed out Aidan as the fittest person to 
deal with the barbarous Saxons, and though said to have been 
well-nigh eighty years of age, he undertook the task with 
cheerfulness and alacrity. He was accordingly ordained a 
bishop by the presbyter monks of Iona, and set his face toward 
Northumberland. 1 

Off the coast of Northumberland there is an island called 

Lindisfarne, or Holy Isle. It is about two miles long, and one 

broad. From its eastern side the German ocean stretches 

farther than the eye can reach ; and from the western shore 

1 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, book iii. chap. v. 


you gaze, over a narrow channel, upon the cultivated coasts 
of England ; and can easily discern towards the north the 
ancient town of Berwick ; and away to the south, Bamborough 
Castle, crowning a bold promontory, which juts into the sea. 
On this island, which perhaps might remind him of Iona, 
Aidan determined to settle. 

The aged monk at once began his apostolic work, and in 
this he was powerfully assisted by the king. As Aidan was 
not well skilled in the English tongue, his Majesty frequently 
condescended to act as interpreter, being well acquainted with 
the Scottish speech. The united piety of the monarch and 
the monk were not, as we may well believe, without their 
reward, and conversions became numerous. "From that time," 
says our venerable authority, " many of the Scots came daily 
into Britain, and with great devotion preached the Word to 
those provinces of the English over which King Oswald 
reigned ; and those among them that had received priests' 
orders administered to them the grace of baptism. Churches 
were built in several places ; the people joyfully flocked 
together to hear the Word ; money and lands were given of 
the king's bounty to build monasteries ; the English, great and 
small, were by their Scottish masters instructed in the rules 
and observances of regular discipline ; for most of them that 
came to preach were monks." 1 

Aidan is celebrated by the Saxon historian as a perfect 
model of apostolic and episcopal purity. He was abstemious, 
continent, generous to the poor, humble to all. Austere in his 
own conduct, he was indulgent to others. He was wont to 
traverse the town and country on foot, and invite every passer- 
by to embrace the faith. All in his company, whether "shaven 
monks or laymen," were kept diligently employed in reading 
the Scriptures and learning psalms. If he went to dine with 
the king, he took two clerks with him, and having snatched a 
frugal repast, he made haste to be gone with them, either to 
read or write. Many pious men and women, led by his 
example, began to fast upon Wednesday and Friday till the 
ninth hour. There was only one spot on this otherwise spot- 
less character — he did not keep Easter on the canonical day. 

After sixteen years of diligent labour, Aidan died, and was 

1 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, book iii. chap. iii. This passage proves 
that many of the monks that came into England had not priests' orders — 
in other words, were not presbyters ; yet they preached. The presbyters 
administered the sacraments. 


buried in Lindisfarne. He was succeeded by Finan, who had 
likewise been reared among the monks of Iona. In his life- 
time, Peada, prince of the Mercians, sought in marriage 
Elfleda, daughter of Oswy, King of Northumberland. His 
reception of Christianity was made the condition of the 
nuptials, and the prince willingly received the faith and his 
bride together. He was baptized, with all his retinue, by 
Finan, and four priests were despatched into his kingdom to 
convert his subjects. Meeting with great success, Diuma, one 
of the four, was ordained bishop of the province. 1 But the 
missionary success of Finan did not end here. The East 
Saxons had for a short time professed Christianity, and then 
relapsed into idolatry. Their king at this time was Sigebert, 
who came to visit Oswy in Northumberland, and while there 
was persuaded to receive the rite of baptism. Returning 
home, he invited Christian teachers into his kingdom, and two 
were accordingly sent him. One of these, after a time, return- 
ing to Lindisfarne, and relating to Finan how successful he 
had been, was ordained bishop of the East Angles ; and, 
going back to his province with more ample authority, he 
built churches, and ordained presbyters and deacons to assist 
him in " the work of faith and ministry of baptising." 2 Thus 
were the three great Saxon kingdoms of Northumberland, 
Mercia, and Essex, constituting by far the largest and most 
important part of England, converted to Christianity by the 
preaching of monks from Iona. 3 The spiritual conquerors of 
the country became its occupants, and for several successions 
the Sees of York, Durham, Lichfield, and London, were filled 
by Scotsmen. 4 

The transactions of these missionary monks have given rise 

1 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, book iii. chap. xxi. 

,J Ibid. , book iii. chap. xxii. 

:} " By the ministery of Aidan was the kingdome of Northumberland 
recovered from paganisme (whereunto belonged then, beside the shire of 
North umberlande, and the lands beyond it unto Edenborrow, Frith, 
Cumberland also, and Westmorland, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the 
Bishopricke of Durham) ; and by the means of Finan, not onely the king- 
dom of the East Saxons (which contained Essex, Middlesex, and halfe of 
Hertfordshire) regained, but also the large kingdom of Mercia converted 
first unto Christianity ; which comprehended under it, Gloucestershire, 
Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Rutland- 
shire, Northamptonshire, Lincolneshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, 
Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, 
Nottinghamshire, Chesshire, and the other halfe of Hertfordshire." 
(Archbishop Usher : Religion professed by the Ancient Irish, chap, x.) 

4 Of course it will not be understood by this that these Sees, precisely 
as now constituted, then existed. 


to a controversy regarding their ecclesiastical polity. The 
controversy is principally founded on the narrative of Bede, 
both parties referring to the language which he uses. Let us 
briefly advert to it. 

King Oswald having asked a bishop from the Scots to ad- 
minister the word of faith to him and his nation, the inmates 
of Iona, after hearing the discreet sentiments of Aidan, pre- 
viously quoted, " concluded that he deserved to be made a 
bishop, and ought to be sent to instruct the unbelieving and 
unlearned, since he was found to be endued with singular 
discretion, which is the mother of other virtues, and accord- 
ingly having ordained, they sent him to their friend, King 
Oswald, to preach." 2 This language, we think, evidently 
implies, if it does not expressly affirm, that those who judged 
Aidan worthy of the episcopate, both ordained and sent him. 
If the statement of Bede is to be held authoritative, it is im- 
possible to resist the conclusion that it was the Presbyter- 
abbot of Iona and his fellow monks who consecrated the first 
Bishop of Landisfarne. There is no mention of a bishop 
being present, or taking part in the proceedings ; it was the 
old apostolic ordination, by the laying on of the hands of the 
presbytery. Finan and Colman were ordained in the same 
way and by the same men ; and as they ordained many others 
to be bishops, presbyters, and deacons, it is almost demon- 
strable that the present English Episcopate may be traced 
back to a Presbyterian source. 

But it has been said there were bishops in Ireland and also 
in Scotland at the time we speak of, and that therefore there 
might have been one kept at Iona for the purpose of per- 
petuating pure episcopacy, though both Adam nan and Cumin 
are silent on the subject. There undoubtedly were bishops 
in Scotland, but they were such bishops as acknowledged the 
jurisdiction of the Presbyter-abbot of Iona. Reared under 
his care, and appointed by him to the episcopate of their 
respective congregations, they never dreamt that they be- 
longed to an order higher than their abbot, or that they 
possessed powers of transmitting the apostolic virtue and the 
sacerdotal character which were denied to him. 2 In regard 

1 Bede's Ecclesiastical History, book iii. chap. v. 

2 The two passages in Adamnan's Life of Columba, which are relied upon 
to prove the recognition of special episcopal grace by Columba, appear to 
me to prove the contrary, for the Saint cursed the episcopal ordination of 
Aid as " a son of perdition," and in the other case Columba simply asked 
the stranger bishop to dispense the communion, as any presbyter might at 
the present day. (See Adamnan, b. i., c. 27 and c. 35.) 


to Aidan and Finan, it is more than probable that they were 
lay-monks, previous to their being ordained as missionary- 
bishops to Northumberland. If they were presbyters already 
(for the appellation of bishop appears to have been given 
specially and properly to those who had the superintendence of 
a flock), then we must look for the explanation of the pro- 
ceedings at Iona to that instructive passage in the Acts of the 
Apostles, in which we are told that as the prophets and 
teachers in the Church of Antioch " ministered to the Lord 
and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and 
Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when 
they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, 
they sent them away." 1 We must be content to remain in 
ignorance as to whether the Scotch and Irish monks were 
aware of the distinction which had sprung up in the Church 
between the presbyter and bishop \ it is probable they were, 
but that they were ignorant of the great and growing distance 
which now separated them in the south and east ; or, if they 
did know the fact that peculiar honours and functions were 
now reserved for the one and denied to the other, it is plain 
they had determined to ignore it. 

Christianity had entered Saxon-England at its two extremi- 
ties. Augustine and his monks had landed in Kent, and 
extended their teaching and influence over the south and 
south-west of the kingdom. Aidan and his monks had en- 
tered Northumberland, and pushed their teaching and influ- 
ence over the northern, eastern, and midland provinces. 
Rome and Iona met on English ground and contended for 
the mastery. There were not wanting subjects of dispute, for 
there were obvious differences between the Italian and Celtic 
missionaries. But the true day for the celebration of Easter, 
and the true form of the clerical tonsure, were the topics which 
excited the fiercest controversies, and stirred up the strongest 
passions, and ultimately led to the exodus from England of the 
northern ecclesiastics. 

It has been supposed by some ecclesiastical writers that the 
British and Irish Churches agreed with the Churches of Asia in 
regard to the celebration of Easter, and this has been held as 
a proof of their Oriental origin. This, however, is plainly a 
mistake. Prior to the Council of Nice, the Asiatic Churches 
celebrated Pasch on the fourteenth day of the moon, week-day 
or Sunday ; the British and Irish Churches never did so, but 
1 The Acts of the Apostles, chap. xiii. ver. 2, 3. 


with the whole west kept the feast on the Sunday immediately 
following. Their disagreement with Rome simply arose from 
the adherence to an old almanac, when a new one had come 
into use. 

The difference is easily explained. The Romans kept 
Easter betwixt the fifteenth aud twenty-first day of the moon, 
immediately after the 21st day of March or vernal equinox, 
when the days and nights are equal. In reckoning the age of 
the moon they followed the Alexandrian cycle of nineteen 
years, or the Golden Number, as interpreted and explained by 
Dionysius Exiguus. The ancient British and Irish Churches, 
on the other hand, kept Easter on the Sunday that fell 
betwixt the fourteenth and twentieth day of the moon ; and 
followed in their computation of it, not the nineteen years 
cycle of Anatolius, but a cycle of eighty-four years attributed 
to Sulpicius Verus. 1 

We have already seen the pains taken by Augustine to con- 
vince the British bishops of their error, and of their ill-fated 
persistency in it. Laurentius, his successor in the See of 
Canterbury, not only pursued the same course at home, but 
wrote a letter to " his most dear brothers the lords-bishops 
and abbots throughout all Scotland," stating, that he had 
expected they would have been better informed about Easter 
than the Britons, but that he had discovered his mistake, and 
that a certain Scotch bishop called Dagan had carried matters 
so high as to refuse to eat with him, or enter the house where 
he was. 2 About thirty years after this, Popes Honorius and 
John IV. both wrote to the Scots, earnestly exhorting them 
" not to think their small number, placed in the utmost 
borders of the earth, wiser than all the ancient and modern 
churches of Christ throughout all the world ; and not to cele- 
brate a different Easter, contrary to the Paschal calculation, 
and the synodical decrees of all the bishops upon earth." 3 

Notwithstanding these efforts of Rome and her emissaries, 
the good bishop Aidan appears to have escaped all serious 
annoyance from the Easter controversy, as Roman influence 

1 Usher, Religion of the Ancient Irish, chap. ix. 

2 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, book ii. chap. iv. 

3 Ibid., book ii. chap. xix. In both these letters we must understand 
"Scots" to apply to the Scots of Ireland as well as to the Scots in the 
west of Scotland — in fact, to all who spoke the same Erse language. 
That they include the Scots settled in Argyll is proved by the circum- 
stance that Segenus (Segenius), the Abbot of Iona, is mentioned by name 
in the pontifical letter. 

A.D. 664.] SYNOD OF WHITBY. 5 7 

was still but little known in Northumbria ; only the historian 
mourns that so good a man should have cherished so grievous 
an error, but charitably imputes it to his rustic simplicity. 1 
His successor Finan did not thus easily escape. The Queen 
Eanfleda had been brought up in Kent, and had with her a 
Kentish priest, who followed the new style in the celebration 
of Easter ; and thus it happened, awkwardly enough, in the 
palace, that when the king had ended the time of fasting, and 
kept his Easter, the queen and her followers were still fasting 
and celebrating Palm Sunday. 2 But Finan stood firm, not- 
withstanding these courtly influences, and died in the faith in 
which he had been educated. 

He was succeeded at Lindisfarne by Colman, who had also 
been reared in Iona. In his time the controversy, which had 
gradually been growing, came to a head. Agilbert, bishop of 
the West Saxons, came on a visit to the Prince of Northum- 
berland, and advantage was taken of this to hold a synod in 
the monastery of Streoneshalch, which overlooked the German 
Sea from the cliffs of Whitby. 3 Thither, accordingly, came 
King Oswy and his son ; Bishop Colman, with his Scottish 
clerks ; Bishop Agilbert, with the priests Agatho and Wilfred ; 
the queen's confessor, who sympathized with the Romanists ; 
and the Abbess Hilda, one of the most remarkable religious 
women of the time, who took the side of the Scots. Bishop 
Ced acted as interpreter, and maintained an impartial neu- 

The king opened the controversy with a prudent speech, in 
which he counselled unity and peace. Colman then declared 
that the tradition of his elders, which he followed, had de- 
scended from St John, the disciple beloved of the Lord. Wilfred 
insinuated that if St John taught any such doctrine he Juda- 
ized, and that St Peter had taught them differently. Colman 
pointed to St Columba, whose piety had been attested by his 

1 " As Christians they knew that the resurrection of our Lord, which 
happened on the first day after the Sabbath, was always to be celebrated 
on the first day after the Sabbath ; but being rude barbarians, they had 
not learned when that first day after the Sabbath, which is now called the 
Lord's Day, should come." " These things I much love and admire in 
the aforesaid bishop, because I do not doubt they were pleasing to God ; 
but I do not praise or approve his not observing Easter at the proper 
time, either through ignorance of the canonical time appointed, or, if he 
knew it, being prevailed on by the authority of his nation not to follow 
the same." (Bede, Eccles. Hist., book iii. chapters iv. and xvii.) 

2 Bede, Eccles. Hist., book iii. chap. xxv. 

:i This synod is known in history as the Synodus Pharensis. 


miracles. Wilfred scornfully replied that the Lord would say 
to many who boasted of having prophesied and having cast 
out devils and done wonderful works, I never knew you. But 
charitably hoping it might not be so, continued Wilfred, Is 
Columba to be compared to the most blessed prince of the 
apostles to whom our Lord entrusted the keys of the kingdom 
of heaven ? This decided the controversy. Is it true, cried the 
king, that St Peter keeps the keys ? This both the disputants 
were obliged to confess, while no such high office could be 
claimed for Columba. Then, said the king, I must obey his 
decree, lest when I come to the gates there should be none to 

But this was not the only question which inflamed eccle- 
siastics, and disturbed the peace and unity of the Church. 
There was a controversy regarding the tonsure, which ran as 
high as that regarding Easter, and the proper method of 
shaving the crown of the head was invested with all the 
solemnity of religion. The tonsure appears to have originated 
among the earliest Christian ascetics, and to have been used 
by them as a distinctive token of their renunciation of the 
world. Towards the close of the fifth century, it began to be 
regarded, both in the east and west, as a necessary mark of 
the sacerdotal caste ; and now the barber's razor was required 
to co-operate with the bishop's hand to constitute the priest. 
Two modes of shaving the clerical crown — the circular and 
semicircular — came into use ; but who were the inventors of 
them, History, with blameworthy carelessness, has neglected 
to record. The Roman clergy gave a preference to the 
circular shave, which was and is performed by making bald a 
small round spot on the very crown of the head, and leaving 
it encircled by hair. The Scottish monks, on the other hand, 
adopted the semicircular mode, and shaved the forepart of 
their head from ear to ear, in the form of a crescent. . 

Augustine and his successors in the See of Canterbury were 
much shocked at the barbarism of the Scottish clergy, called 
their way of shaving the tonsure of Simon Magus, and insisted 
that henceforward they should perform the operation after the 
Roman fashion. So far did matters proceed that the tonsure 
was made a test of orthodoxy, and a man was or was not a 
heretic according as he made bare the crown or the forepart 
of his head. Discourses were preached, and arguments held, 
to extol the one method and reprobate the other ; and even 
texts of Scripture were quoted as decisive in favour of the 

A.D. 664.] THE TONSURE. 59 

circular mode. The horror with which the Italian clergy 
affected to behold the crescent crowns of the monks of Iona 
is inadequately represented by the feeling with which the 
gentleman, fresh from the capital, contemplates the uncouthly- 
shorn locks of the rustic. But neither eloquence, arguments, 
nor derision had any effect upon the presbyters of the north. 
They steadfastly maintained that theirs was the better way, 
and that they would continue to shave their heads as St John 
and St Polycarp had done before them. 

The adverse decision in the Easter controversy, and the 
continual taunts to which he was exposed on account of the 
shape of his tonsure, determined Colman to leave Lindisfarne, 
and return to Iona. 1 He was accompanied by all who were 
of the same mind as himself, and they devoutly carried away 
with them part of the bones of the most reverend Father 
Aidan. Thus Italian priests and practices prevailed in Eng- 
land, and drove out the Scots after an occupation of thirty 
years. Neander laments the unfortunate decision of the 
disputation at Streoneshalch, and remarks, " that the manner 
in which it was made could not fail to be attended with the 
most important effects on the shaping of ecclesiastical rela- 
tions all over England ; for had the Scottish tendency pre- 
vailed, England would have obtained a more free Church 
constitution, and a reaction against the PvOmish hierarchical 
system would have ever continued to go forth from this 
quarter. 2 Mr Green, on the other hand, thinks that if the 
influence of Iona had triumphed, England would have been 
isolated from the civilisation, the letters, and the laws of Con- 
tinental Christendom. 3 The victory of Whitby being achieved, 
Northumberland did not prove the limit of Roman influence. 
Parts of our country inaccessible to Roman soldiers were sub- 
dued by Roman priests, and in the course of another century 
all the monks of Scotland shaved their heads in the orthodox 
fashion, and observed Easter on the orthodox day. Xectan, 
King of the Picts, was the first to yield, and he was followed 
soon afterwards by the community of Iona. 4 

It has been thought by some historians, that in the firmness 
with which the Celtic monks defended their own tonsure and 
their own Easter we see something of the Protestant spirit, 

1 Bede, Eccles. Hist., book iii. chap. xxvi. 
a Church History, vol. v. sect. i. 

3 History of the English People, book i. p 57. 

4 Bede, book iv. 


and that even in these foolish monkish disputes we may trace 
the indications of a purer faith than generally prevailed at the 
time. To this it has been replied, that the Celts shaved their 
crowns and kept their Easter as scrupulously as the Romans, 
though in the one case they preferred the semicircular to the 
circular tonsure, and in the other an old calendar to a new 
one ; and that the difference arose solely from their being 
further removed from Romish influences, and therefore a 
century or two later of being affected by them. It has been 
said that we may see an illustration of the whole matter in the 
tenacity with which the rural districts of Scotland keep to the 
Old Style in counting their terms, so long after the cities and 
towns have adopted the New ; and it has been somewhat un- 
fairly insinuated, that a Highland minister, in our own day, 
would feel as reluctant to allow his hair to be trimmed after 
the Parisian mode, as his Columbite predecessor, twelve 
hundred years ago, was to allow his head to be shaved after 
the fashion of the friseurs of Rome. Repudiating the illustra- 
tion, we may allow the argument, for it goes to prove that in 
Scotland, at this time, there was a more primitive, and there- 
fore in all probability a purer faith, than in Italy or Gaul. 
In the Church of Scotland in the sixth and seventh centuries, 
we see the Church of Rome in the third and fourth. By 
reason of its isolation, it was behind the age ; but that very 
circumstance brought it nearer to the age of the apostles. This 
one thing we may clearly learn from the controversy at Streo- 
neshalch, that the monks of Iona did not acknowledge that 
they owed any allegiance to the Bishop of Rome. They 
learned that lesson afterwards, but it was not yet. 

Some writers have attempted to prove that the Columbites 
repudiated auricular confession, the worship of saints and 
images, the doctrine of purgatory, and the real presence in the 
Sacrament of the Supper \ and have delighted to portray 
them as free from almost all the errors and superstitions of the 
Roman Church, the holy children in the midst of Babylon. 1 
An impartial examination of their history shows this to be a 
fond delusion. It is certain they were always behind the 
Roman clergy in the reception of new doctrines and modes of 
worship ; and that the Romish ritual never attained its full 
splendour amongst them ; but this is to be attributed solely to 

1 Dr Jamieson and others. See Historical Account of the Ancient Cul- 
dees, pp. 198-220. This history, however, is full of interesting and eru- 
dite information. 


the remoteness of their situation, the simplicity of their man- 
ners, and the poverty of their country. But they gloried in 
their miracles ; l they paid respect to relics ; 2 they had their 
monasteries, their abbots, and their abbesses, and lived accord- 
ing to a monastic discipline ; they performed penances, fasted 
on Wednesdays and Fridays, 3 ascribed virtue to the sign of the 
cross, used a liturgy, believed in the intercession of saints, 4 had 
something very like to auricular confession, absolution, and 
masses for the dead. 6 But who will doubt but that very 
many of them were good and holy men, notwithstanding they 
were so far infected by the superstitions of their time. 

Though the early Celtic monks had caught the contagion of 
many of those errors which are now denominated Roman, we 
would do wrong to suppose that they yielded subjection to the 
Roman See. Iona was their Rome. They were not even in 
communion with the Papal Church; and the Latin and Celtic 
clergy regarded each other with mutual suspicion and dislike. 
No churches were as yet dedicated to St Peter ; they bore the 
names of Columba, Drostan, and other native saints. The 
British Church firmly refused to receive Augustine as its arch- 
bishop. The Scottish Church was not moved by the letter of 
Pope Honorius in regard to the observance of Easter ; and 
when Colman lost the day at Whitby, rather than yield, he 
took the relics of Aidan and retired to lona. The Romanists 
retaliated in their own way, — they denied the validity of 

1 The biographies of Columba, Aidan, Finan, &c. , are full of these. 

2 The bones of Columba found no rest, and for centuries were being per- 
petually carried hither and thither, from Ireland to Scotland, and from 
Scotland to Ireland. The bones of Aidan (or rather a share of them) were 
carried away from Lindisfarne by Colman. (Bede. ) 

3 Bede specially mentions that Aidan induced many to fast on these 

4 Columba, when near his death, promised to intercede for his brother 
when he got to heaven. (Adam. Vit. Col. ) 

5 In Adamnan's Life of Columba, we find one Fiachna throwing himself 
at the feet of the Saint and confessing his sins. Upon which Columba said, 
" Rise up, son, and be comforted ; thy sins which thou hast committed are 
forgiven." (Lib. i. cap. xvi. ) Adamnan himself, the author of this bio- 
graphy, according to Bede, was wont to confess to a priest, and perform 
severe penances. (Lib. iv. cap. xxv.) 

6 When Columba heard of the death of Columbanus, " I must," said he, 
"to-day, though I be unworthy, celebrate the holy mysteries of the 
eucharist, for the reverence of that soul which this night, carried beyond 
the starry firmament betwixt the holy quires of angels, ascended into Para- 
dise." (Adamnan, lib. iii. cap. xvi.) The whole subject is dispassion- 
ately and learnedly discussed by Usher in his "Religion of the Ancient 


Scotch orders. Accordingly when Wilfred was chosen Arch- 
bishop of York in the room of Colman, he refused to receive 
ordination at the hands of the Scots, as being out of com- 
munion with Rome \ and prayed that he might be allowed to 
go beyond the sea, and receive ordination from the hands of 
catholic bishops. 1 His prayer was granted; but as he loitered 
in France, his enemies had their revenge, and induced the 
king to have Chad appointed to the See of York in his absence. 
But this being done, great difficulty was felt in regard to his 
consecration, as only one bishop was to be found in all 
England who could be recognised as having been canonically 
ordained." 2 Consecrated, however, he was, though he after- 
wards required to submit to be consecrated again, to make his 
apostolical succession sure. 3 Animated with this spirit, cer- 
tain Saxon bishops, who had become the abettors of Rome, 
met in conclave, and issued the following decree : — " Such as 
have received ordination from the bishops of the Scots or 
Britons, who in the matter of Easter and the tonsure are not 
united to the Catholic Church, let them be again, by imposi- 
tion of hands, confirmed by a catholic bishop. In like man- 
ner also, let the churches that have been consecrated by those 
bishops be sprinkled with exorcised water, and confirmed with 
some service." The decrees of this council go on to declare 
that baptismal chrism and the eucharist were to be denied to 
all such schismatics till they professed their adherence to the 
one Church ; and that, on their doing so, though baptized 
before, they were to be baptized again. 4 Such were the for- 
midable consequences which followed their stubborn adher- 
ence to a worn-out almanac, and a Simoniacal tonsure. 

Such contumely on the part of the Romanists had its natural 
effect on the minds of the British clergy, and no doubt also 
on the minds of their brethren in the north, though our infor- 
mation is confined to the former. They repaid contumely 
with contumely, hatred with hatred, and excommunication 
with excommunication. Did a Catholic seek the society of 
the Welsh Christians, he was first put upon a penance of forty 
days. 5 Did he speak of his church and his faith, he was told 

1 Usher, Religion of the Ancient Irish, chap. x. He quotes as his 
authorities Bede, William of Malmesbury, and Stephen's Life of Wilfred. 

2 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, book iii. chap, xxviii. 
:5 Ibid., book iv. chap. ii. 

4 Concil., Tom. vi. col. 1877. 

5 Usher, Religion of the Ancient Irish, chap. x. 

A.D. 7C0-1000.] THE CULDEES. 6 


he was no better than a heathen. 1 Upon such religious heart- 
burnings the bards could not be silent; and a lay of Talies- 
syn, honoured by the Welsh with the title of " Ben Beirdh," 
or chief of the bards, has descended to our time, in which a 
woe is pronounced upon the priest who does not guard his 
flock from Roman wolves. 2 

The feeble ray of light let in upon the ecclesiastical condi- 
tion of Scotland by the writings of Cumin, Adamnan, and 
Bede, perished before the expiry of the eighth century, and 
for the next three hundred years we are left in hopeless dark- 
ness. These centuries we know contained events of vast 
political importance, as it was during them the Scottish and 
Pictish monarchies were merged in one ; and they must have 
witnessed ecclesiastical changes equally great, as such length- 
ened periods of time always do. When the light begins again 
to break, we meet for the first time, in the records of the 
period, the name " Culdee " applied to a body of the Scottish 
clergy. The first mention of them is in the Chartulary of St 
Andrews, in which it is recorded that Brude, the last king of 
the Picts, according to ancient tradition, had given the island 
of Lochleven to God, St Serf, and the Culdee hermits there. 
After this, notices of these Culdees are not uncommon ; and. 
notwithstanding the dark ages which have intervened between 
the landing on Iona and the founding of the priory of St 
Andrews, we need have no hesitation in identifying these 
Culdees as the direct descendants of the ancient Columbites. 3 
Culdee simply signifies a monk. 4 The record in the Chartu- 
lary points back to a time when the Pictish kingdom was still 

1 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, book ii. chap. xx. " It is to this day/' 
says this historian, " the custom of the Britons not to pay any respect to 
the faith and religion of the English, nor to correspond with them any 
more than with Pagans." 

2 Usher gives the original Welsh of this lay, with the translation, from 
the Chronicle of Wales, p. 254. 

3 Dr Grub in his Ecclesiastical History of Scotland concedes this (vol. i. 
p. 230) ; Dr Burton seems reluctant to allow it, but does not expressly 
deny it, nor attempt to explain who the Culdees were if not the descend- 
ants of the Columbites. 

4 Ceal in Gaelic signifies a retreat ; Cealdeach is applicable to a person 
fond of retirement ; and that Culdee is sprung from the same root with 
these words becomes more evident when we look to its Latinised form, 
Keledetis, which probably preserves the ancient pronunciation. Dr Burton, 
following Dr Reeves, thinks it is derived from the Celtic Cele-de. 
servant of God, the first half of the phrase still existing in the modern 
' c gilly. '' The old pedantic derivation of Cultores Dei is now aban- 


in existence. Moreover, there were Culdees in other countries 
besides Scotland — they were to be found m England, in Wales, 
in Ireland, from which St Columba had come, and we have 
the name there much earlier than in Scotland. They may 
have changed since the days of Columba — no doubt they had 
— but they still preserved the collegiate life which he founded, 
though they had long lost the missionary zeal which he in- 
spired. It is certain they had struck their roots deep into the 
soil; they had religious houses at Dunkeld, Abernethy, 
Brechin, Monifieth, St Andrews, Dull, Deer, and the other 
centres of the ancient population • and they were possessed of 
immense tracts of land. Their abbots were frequently lay- 
men, and in this fact we have either a remain of the old idea 
that the monk need not be a priest, or an example of what 
afterwards repeated itself at the time of the Reformation, and 
even before it — a powerful laic seizing upon the Church's in- 
heritance, and holding it under an ecclesiastical name. These 
lay abbots ranked with the greatest nobles, and in the case of 
Crinan, Abbot of Dunkeld, were connected with royalty. 

The Culdees never submitted to the decrees of the Papacy 
in regard to celibacy. Many of them were married men. St 
Patrick was the son of a deacon, and the grandson of a priest. 
In a synod said to have been held by the same saint, together 
with Auxilius and Isserninus, there was a special decree that 
the wives of the clergy should not walk abroad with their heads 
uncovered. 1 Mylne relates that the Culdees of Dunkeld had 
wives, after the manner of the eastern church, but that they 
abstained from them when they ministered in their courses.- 
It is thought that in the Gaelic names of Macpherson, Mac- 
Vicar, and MacNab, we have evidence of descent, it is to be 
hoped legitimate, from some ancient parson, vicar, or abbot. 
Indeed, the ancient royal line had Culdee blood, for the 
" gracious " Duncan was the son of Crinan, Abbot of Dunkeld, 
who had a daughter of Malcolm II. for his wife. But not only 
did the Culdees marry ; they were frequently succeeded in 
office by their sons. In the Registry of St Andrews there is 
mention of thirteen Culdees who held their places by inherit- 
ance. 3 Giraldus Cambrensis informs us that, even so late as 
his day, it was common among the Culdees of Wales for " the 

1 Usher, chap. v. 

2 ViUe Dunkeldensis Ecclesirc Episcoporum, p. 4. 

3 Habebantur tamen in ecclesia Sancti Andreoe, quanta et qualis ipsa tunc 
erat, tredecim per successionem carnalem, quos keledeos appellant. 

A.D. 600-1200.] CULDEE REMAINS. 65 

sons to get the churches after their fathers by succession, and not 
by election, thus possessing and polluting the Church of God." ] 
The same practice prevailed in Ireland, for we find Pope In- 
nocent III. writing to his legate there, Cardinal Salernitan, to 
use his endeavours to abolish the custom whereby children 
succeeded to their fathers and grandfathers in their ecclesiasti- 
cal benefices. 2 In like manner we find Hildebert, Archbishop 
of Tours, stating that when he was Bishop of Man, the canon- 
ries or prebends of the church of Clermont were transmitted 
hereditarily, so that there the canons were born canons, and 
that none of the clergy were elected except the bishop and 
abbot. 3 The transmitting of ecclesiastical offices by inherit- 
ance was well nigh as great an evil as the cutting off from the 
clergy all hope of doing so, by compelling them to celibacy. 
Our happiness in knowing that they escaped one error, will 
therefore be considerably abated by the discovery that they fell 
into an opposite and almost equally pernicious one. 4 

We have the architectural remains of these Celtic monks 
in the round towers of Abernethy and Brechin, and in a few 
heaps of stones, found chiefly in the most desolate of the 
Hebrides. Almost formless when looked at by themselves, 
they are pronounced by antiquaries to be of the same type as 
a few more perfect ecclesiastical ruins which exist in several 
districts of Ireland. There is always a group of buildings — a 
rectangular oratory or church, with a door at the west end and 
a window at the east, and a group of bee-hive-shaped cells 
built of unhewn, uncemented stones, and which evidently 
were the homes of the ecclesiastics. The whole is surrounded 
by a rude rampart. 

But the Books of Deer, of Lindisfarne, and Kells 5 are much 

1 Successive quoque, et post patres filii ecclesias obtinent, non elective ; 
hoereditarie possidentes et polluentes ecclesiam Dei. (Illaudabilibus 
Walliae, cap. vi.) He lived in the end of the 12th and the beginning of 
the 13th centuries. 

2 Usher, Religion of the Ancient Irish, chap. 5. 

3 Epist. 55. See Goodall's Preliminary Dissertation to Keith's Catalogue 
of Scottish Bishops. 

4 The truth is, the compulsory celibacy of the Roman clergy was not 
general at the time when the Columbites were in their prime. 

5 The Book of Deer (of which an illustrated edition is published by 
the Spalding Club) has a special interest, as it contains, written on its 
margin and blank leaves, Gaelic memoranda of grants to the monastery, 
apparently in the twelfth century. From this it has been inferred that the 
language of Buchan was, at that time, Gaelic ; but the memoranda prove 
only that there were Gaelic monks in the monastery. Two centuries 

VOL. I. E 


more interesting monuments of that time, and their beauti- 
fully interlaced decorations, showing high art, are in strange 
contrast with the rude structures which sheltered the artists. 
We must not forget, however, that the carvings on the clubs 
and other implements of savages are artistic in the highest 
degree. But be this as it may, these Culdees, in the first flush 
of their zeal, went forth as missionaries to almost every 
country of Europe — to France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy. 
They travelled in companies, and were marked by their un- 
kempt hair, their coarse cloaks, their leathern wallets, their 
long walking sticks, like a band of primitive apostles. St 
Bernard mentions them, and their handwriting is still to be 
seen at St Gall and many other colleges and monasteries l of 

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, w r e find the Culdees 
struggling in the stream which ultimately carried them away. 
The Church Reform of St Margaret and her sons had begun, 
and the modern order of things came into contact with the 
antiquated. They were often at war with the Roman bishops, 
though now all but conformed to the Roman Church. The 
disputes, however, more frequently regarded tithes, lands, and 
privileges, than points of theology. At St Andrews, Dunkeld, 
Dunblane, and Brechin, there had been convents of Culdees 
from a remote antiquity, and when these places were consti- 
tuted into bishoprics, the Culdees formed the bishop's chapter, 
and had the election of the bishops. But Roman influence 
was growing stronger every day, and as married Culdees were 
thought to derogate from the sanctity of a cathedral, they were 
gradually supplanted, and Canons-Regular substituted in their 
room. They lingered longest at Brechin ; but with the four- 
teenth century they vanish. 2 

We get a glimpse of the religious character of this, the last 
age of Culdee supremacy, in the life of Margaret, the Saxon 
queen of Malcolm III., written by Turgot, her confessor. 
This royal lady, who has been honoured with canonization, 
though very superstitious, and somewhat ostentatious in her 

afterwards, Barbour in Aberdeen wrote in Anglo-Saxon. Not to mention 
other circumstances, it was impossible there could be a change like this in 
two hundred years. 

1 Anderson's Rhind Lectures, 1879. Montalembert's " Monks of the 

2 Dr Ebrard, in his Ilandbuch der Christlichen Kirchen-und-Dogmen 
(leschichte, gives a glowing theory of the Culdees, which facts scarcely 
bear out. 

ad. 1070-90.] QUEEN MARGARET. 67 

acts of beneficence, nevertheless possessed many eminent vir- 
tues, and must be ranked among the best of queens. She 
exercised unbounded influence over her brave but illiterate 
husband, who, though unable to read her books of devotion, 
was accustomed fervently to kiss them. Every morning 
she prepared food for nine orphan children ; and on her 
bended knees she fed them. With her own hands she minis- 
tered at table to crowds of indigent persons who assembled 
to share in her bounty ; and nightly, before retiring to rest, 
she gave a still more striking proof of her humility by washing 
the feet of six of them. She was frequently in church, pros- 
trate before the altar, and there with sighs and tears, and pro- 
tracted prayers, she offered herself a sacrifice to the Lord. 
When the season of Lent came round, besides reciting par- 
ticular Offices, she went over the whole Psalter twice or thrice 
within twenty-four hours. Before repairing to public mass, 
she prepared herself for the solemnity, by hearing five or six 
private masses ; and when the whole service was over, she fed 
twenty-four hungry on-hangers, and thus illustrated her faith 
by her works. It was not till these were satisfied that she 
retired to her own scanty meal. But with all this parade of 
humility, there was an equal display of pride. Her dress was 
gorgeous, her retinue large, and her coarse fare must needs be 
served in dishes of silver and gold, a thing unheard of in Scot- 
land till her time. 

Fortunate in having obtained a good education, St Margaret 
was particularly fond of showing her learning and knowledge 
of the Scriptures. " Often," says her confessor, "have ] 
with admiration heard her discourse on subtle questions ot 
theology, in presence of the most learned men of the king- 
dom." She soon found abundant opportunities for exerting 
her eloquence and erudition in attempts to reform certain 
errors which had crept into the Church. About two hundred 
years before this period, the Roman Church had altered the 
time of observing Lent from the day following Quadragesima 
Sunday to the Wednesday before it ; and, as usual, the Scot- 
tish clergy lagged behind. Ignorant of this, the Queen ima- 
gined the Roman Lent was the most primitive, and that her 
clergy had been guilty of introducing a novelty. " Three- 
days, " says Turgot, " did she employ the sword of the Spirit 
in combating their errors." But as she did not speak the 
language of the Culdees, her husband was obliged to act 
as her interpreter. Such a disputant was sure to win. 


Whether from ignorance of history, or respect for their Queen, 
the Scottish ecclesiastics, though right, were convinced they 
were wrong, and henceforward observed Lent according to 
the Catholic institution. Triumphant in this, and probably 
urged on by her English confessor, the royal reformer 
addressed herself to other abuses. The clergy of Scotland at 
this period had ceased to celebrate the Holy Communion at 
Easter, and pleaded their unvvorthiness as an excuse for their 
neglect. 1 They are accused also of celebrating the mass 
with barbarous rites, but it has been conjectured that 
rites which appeared barbarous to Turgot may have been 
primitive, apostolic, and Presbyterian, though not Roman. 2 
The Sunday, we are also told, was hardly observed ; labour 
went on as on the other days of the week; and in this respect 
also it has been thought the Scotch Church contained in its 
matrix the petrified Christianity of earlier times. A few 
Scotchmen moreover did then, what a few Englishmen are 
beginning to do now — they married their deceased wife's 
sister, and some, with less delicacy and decency, married their 
step-mothers. The Anglican Margaret corrected these real or 
supposed abuses, and introduced the canons and usages of the 
Roman Church. 

It is melancholy to think that the life of so good a queen 
was shortened by the severity of her fasts. They gradually 
undermined her constitution, and brought on severe stomach 
pains, which were removed only by death. She had a favour- 
ite crucifix, which is celebrated in history under the name of 
the Black Rood. The cross was of gold, the figure of ebony, 
and it was understood to enclose a piece of the true cross. 
She was lying, wasted and dying, with the crucifix before her, 
when her son Edgar arrived from the battle of Alnwick. 
"How fares it with the king and my Edward ? " said the 
dying woman. The young man stood silent. " I know all," 
cried she ; " I know all. By this holy cross, by your filial 
affection, I adjure you, tell me the truth." " Your husband 
and son are both slain," said the youth. Lifting her hands 
and eyes to heaven, she devoutly said, " Praise and blessing 

1 How like is this to revelations recently made in regard to some High- 
land parishes in our own day, in which a large proportion of the people 
are said to be unbaptized, and a still greater refused the Sacrament of the 
Supper, and for precisely the same reason. 

2 In the Historia Beati Reguli it is said, " Keledei namque in 
angulo quodam ecclesice, qua? modica nimis erat, suum officium more suo 
celebrabant." See also note, p. 91. 

a.d. 1100-1300.] EXTINCTION OF THE CULDEES. 69 

be to Thee, Almighty God, that Thou hast been pleased to 
make me endure so bitter anguish in the hour of my depar- 
ture, thereby, as I trust, to purify me in some measure from 
the corruption of my sins ; and Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, who 
through the will of the Father hast enlivened the world by 
Thy death, oh, deliver me ! " While the words were yet upon 
her lips she softly expired. 1 

This narrative makes it obvious that the Culdees had 
degenerated since the days when they carried the blessings of 
Christianity among the Saxons of Northumbria, and 'com- 
pelled Bede, notwithstanding his Roman predilections, to do 
homage to the purity of their lives and the ardour of their 
zeal. They had sunk into a state of indolence and ignorance, 
and vital piety had given way to a meaningless superstition. 
Cut off from the rest of the religious world, they had become 
like a pool of water, left behind by the tide, separated from 
the wholesome agitation of the sea, and certain to stagnate. 
On the other hand, the Romish Church at this period was 
full of life and energy, actively and earnestly aggressive. It 
had lost the simplicity of the gospel, but it had preserved its 
proselytizing spirit. It was ambitious to embrace the world, 
although its ambition was rather Ecclesiastical than Christian 
— more to make men vassals of Rome than servants of Christ. 
It was eloquent in preaching good works. Nor had it 
preached in vain. Cathedrals were reared, monasteries 
founded, hospitals endowed. Every one was in haste to do 
something or give something for the Church or the poor. 
In St Margaret we have an embodiment of the spirit of her 
age. What ostentatious humility, what almsgivings, what fast- 
ings, what prayers ! What piety, had it only been free from 
the taint of superstition ! The Culdees were listless and lazy, 
while she was unwearied in doing good. The Culdees met 
her in disputation ; but, being ignorant, they were foiled. 
Death could not contend with life. The Indian disappears 
before the advance of the white man. The Celtic Culdee 
disappeared before the footsteps of the Saxon priest. David, 
the son of Margaret — the saintly son of a sainted mother — 
ascended the Scottish throne ; and the altar-fires of Iona, now- 
smouldering in their ashes, went out under the strong rays of 
regal and pontifical splendour. 

1 Turgot's Vita Margarita? . wSee also Lord Hailes' Annals. 



It is to monks we are indebted for the introduction of Chris- 
tianity into our country, and its preservation during several 
centuries of barbarity and ignorance. We have already spoken 
of the apostolic labours of Ninian, Kentigern, Columba, and 
Cuthbert. These and several others have imprinted their 
existence indelibly on the Scottish memory ; they have towns 
and churches still called by their names ; and the fairs, in those 
villages where they were once revered as patron saints, are 
almost invariably yet held upon the days set apart for their 
honour in the calendar. 1 But time and Christianity had as 
yet done little towards softening the ferocity of the Scots and 
Picts. | Having no longer the Britons to fight with, they 
turned their arms against one another, and the few stray 
notices we have of the eighth and ninth centuries are all of 
blood and battle. In truth, it was impossible that a few 
Culdee houses, scattered over Scotland, could make any power- 
ful impression upon its people. They may have submitted to 
the rites of Christianity ; but it is evident they w r ere yet 
ignorant of its spirit, and, in all probability, with a few excep- 
tions, knew nothing whatever of the doctrines it embraced. 
One of the last dim notices, however, which we have of a 
Pictish king is honourable to his humanity. It is recorded 
that Brude, the son of Derili, gave his sanction to the " law of 
St Adam nan," which exempted women and children from the 
butcheries and brutalities of war. 2 

Jn the ninth century the Pictish kingdom came to an end. 
The stray and dubious notices gleaned from ancient chronicles 
give us no certain information how this came about, but there 
is some ground for believing that a Scot king succeeded to the 
Pictish throne by his female ancestry, and welded the two 
peoples into one — as a Scottish king, in after ages, ascended 
the throne of England, and formed the whole island into one 
empire. Be this as it may, the Picts have vanished from his- 
tory. It is thought they were ignorant of the use of letters, 
and it is certain they have bequeathed us no historical records : 

1 " The fairs of towns and country parishes," says the editor of the first 
volume of the Origines, " were so invariably held on the day of the patron 
saint, that where the dedication is known, a reference to the saint's day in 
the Breviary serves to ascertain the day of the fair." 

3 Robertson's Concilia. Eccles. Scot., Pref. xv. 

A.i). 1 000-1200.] DIVINE RIGHT OF TITHES. 71 

so that had it not been for others, we should have been un- 
aware of their very existence, though their blood flows in our 
veins. The Scots were probably as savage as they ; but the 
monks who came among them from Ireland brought with them 
letters and religion. 

It is recorded in the Registers of St Andrews, and in other 
ancient chronicles, that toward the close of the ninth century 
King Girg first emancipated the Scottish Church from Pictish 
servitude. This would seem to suggest that thus early the 
Scottish clergy had been brought under some species of Eras- 
tian bondage, and that they found a deliverer in Girg : but it 
is now thought the servitude referred to was only the exaction 
of certain secular services and exactions, as we find exemption 
from these carefully noted in some of the most ancient church 
charters. 1 

Bede frequently refers to the " bishops " of the Scots ; but 
these were no other than Culdees, who, issuing from their cells, 
laboured like itinerant preachers among the half-naked bar- 
barians. There were no diocesan prelates, and no parochial 
clergy in Scotland, till the twelfth century. But the work of 
constituting dioceses and parishes having begun, went rapidly 
on. Within a hundred years, the Bishoprics of St Andrews, 
Dunkeld, Dunblane, Glasgow, Moray, Aberdeen, Brechin, 
Ross, Caithness, Galloway, and Argyll, had all been erected. 
It is worth inquiring what was the cause of this sudden 
development of ecclesiastical vigour, if not of spiritual life. 

The Christian clergy for many centuries depended entirely 
upon the free-will offerings of those whom they had converted 
to the faith. When Christianity became the religion of the 
empire, and when it began to be believed that the heavenly 
happiness of the departed might be expedited or increased by 
the prayers of the priests, donations and bequests of money 
and land became frequent, and from this source churches were 
erected and benefices endowed. When the clergy had ob- 
tained a still firmer hold upon the people, they began to 
preach the divine right of tithes. The same proportion of our 
substance which was exacted for the maintenance of the priests 
and Levites under the law was surely still more justly due to 
those who ministered at the altars of the New Testament. It 
was seldom at this period that the clergy preached or reasoned 
in vain. Though there is no mention of tithes in the codes of 
any of the Roman emperors, the payment of them came gra- 
1 Chron. de Mail, p. 224. Wynton, Chron. Scot, Book of Deer. 


dually into use ; and in the eighth century, the Emperor 
Charlemagne made them compulsory in his dominions, and 
piously declared, in his laws, that the devils had muttered in 
the air that the non-payment of the righteous exaction was the 
cause of a famine which had scourged the country. 1 Indebted 
to the Roman bishop for having placed the imperial crown 
upon his head, he still further repaid the boon by the rich 
offerings which he laid upon the shrine of St Peter ; and his 
irresistible arms were ever at the service of the Church, to 
enforce baptism upon reluctant pagans, or to free Rome from 
troublesome Lombards. In his time the Church grew to a 
greatness it never had before. 

Alfred the Great appears to have imitated in England the 
policy of Charlemagne. When he came to the throne he found 
religion almost totally extinguished by the constant incursions 
of the heathen Danes. The t monasteries had been razed to 
the ground ; the monks dispersed ; in many provinces the 
whole Church service had been discontinued ; f and the king 
laments that he had found but one priest south of the Thames, 
and very few north of the Humber, who could understand the 
Latin liturgy. Alfred set himself to build up the Church 
which had fallen down. He invited learned ecclesiastics to 
his kingdom, made his own daughter the abbess of a nunnery, 
expressly enjoined the payment of tithes, and devoted much 
of his own time to works of piety. 2 The virtues, learning, and 
liberality of Alfred had an influence upon the whole king- 
dom ; religion became a fashion, and churchmen mightily in- 
creased; so that two hundred years afterward, when William 
the Conqueror made his survey of the kingdom, he found 
in it 45,017 ecclesiastics, with not a little territory in their 

This mania to enrich the Church, travelling northward, 
soon began to infect Scotland. In the year 1057 Malcolm 

1 Omnis homo ex sua proprietate legitimam decimam ad ecclesiam con- 
ferat. Experimento enim di dicimus, in anno, quo ilia valida fames irrep- 
sit, ebullire vacuas unnonas a dsemonibus devoratas, et voces exproba- 
tionis auditas. Such is the decree of the Council of Frankfort. Selden 
and Montesquieu both regard Charlemagne as the legal author of tithes. 
(See Gibbon, Hist., chap, xlix.) "The civil power was first interposed 
in support of the right in the reign of Charlemagne, who, in 778, intro- 
duced them into his dominions in France and Germany, by the following 
law : — * Ut unusquisque suam decimam donet, atque per jussionem epis- 
copi sui dispensetur." (Leges Longobard. per Lindenbrogius. Connel 
on Tithes, book i. chap. i. ) 

2 Asser's Life of Alfred. 

a.d. 1060-1200.] SAXON AND NORMAN SETTLERS. 73 

Camnore was crowned King of Scotland at Scone. In 1066 
the Normans landed on the coast of Sussex, and the battle of 
Hastings was fought, which decided the fate of England, and 
placed a new dynasty on the throne. Many of the Saxons 
fled into Scotland to escape from their Norman masters ; and 
among others, the royal Edgar, with his mother and two sisters. 
Malcolm welcomed the refugees, gave them fitting entertain- 
ment at court, and soon made Margaret, the elder of the 
sisters, his Queen. The learning, virtues, and piety of this 
lady we have already recorded. From this period we find a 
stream of Saxon and Norman settlers pouring into Scotland. 
They came not as conquerors, and yet they came to possess 
the land. With amazing rapidity, sometimes by royal grants, 
and sometimes by advantageous marriages, they acquired the 
most fertile districts from the Tweed to the Pentland Firth ; 
and almost every noble family in Scotland now traces from them 
its descent. The strangers brought with them English civilisa- 
tion, and English attachment to an ecclesiastical hierarchy, 
and it is to their influence and example we must attribute 
the establishment and endowment of the hierarchy in the 

Notwithstanding the devout spirit which animated Malcolm 
and his queen, they appear to have made few donations to the 
Church. The endowment of a Benedictine establishment at 
Dunfermline, and a small grant of land to the Culdees of Fife, 
are the only, instances of their liberality which have been 
traced. The two elder sons of Malcolm, Edgar and Alexan- 
der, both evinced their piety by founding monasteries ; but his 
youngest son, David, who ultimately succeeded to the throne, 
was by far the most liberal benefactor of the Scottish clergy, 
and bought at a great price the honour of Roman apotheosis. 
He founded the Bishoprics of Glasgow, Brechin, Dunkeld, 
Dunblane, Ross, and Caithness. A, bishop had been located 
at Murtlich; him he translated to Aberdeen, and bestowed upon 
him ample revenues. St Andrews had been raised to opulence 
by his immediate predecessor. 1 If the remaining Scottish 
Sees had any existence prior to his reign, it is certain no suc- 
cession of bishops can be traced, nor till now had they any 
grants of tithes and lands, so necessary to the proper consti- 
tution of a bishopric. The same pious liberality called into 

1 The Bishops of St Andrews probably had some possessions before this 
period, but they must have been inconsiderable. Alexander I. made them 
a grant of a large territory known by the name of the Boar's Chase. 


existence a multitude of abbacies, priories, and nunneries, 
and monks of every order and in every garb swarmed in the 
land. He founded no fewer than fourteen or fifteen religious 
houses, and richly endowed every one of them. " He was a 
sore saint to the crown, " said James the First of Scotland. 

The proprietors of land followed the example of the 
monarch, and their English culture predisposed them to do so. 
Having acquired their feudal charters with the king's + or 
seal attached, they began to settle and improve their manors. 
Perhaps upon their ground they found an old religious house 
already existing, but if not they built a church and tithed the 
manor for its support. It was thus that tithes, and parishes, 
and a parochial clergy, were first called into existence. The 
words " parson ,? or " vicar " do not occur in any charter be- 
fore the time of David I. 1 

But the rise of our Bishoprics, the origin of our Parochial 
System, and the establishment of our Monasteries are deserv- 
ing of a more minute investigation. 

As we have already seen, the original ecclesiastical system 
of Scotland was Abbatial, and not Episcopal — tribal rather 
than diocesan. But churches sprung up apart from the mother 
monastery, and the clergy who took charge of these were the 
earliest bishops. We have traces of such bishops of St An- 
drews from the close of the ninth century, but they had no 
circumscribed diocese — they were simply bishops of the 
Scots. It was more than two hundred years later before the 
diocesan system of England was introduced by Alexander I. 
He appointed to the See of St Andrews Turgot, his mother's 
Anglican Confessor, and probably the prompter of all her 
Anglican reforms. The transaction was brought out into clear 
historic relief by the rival claims of York and Canterbury to 
consecrate, and the resistance of these by the Scotch monarch 
and clergy. The church had not yet learned to limit its pre- 
tensions to the boundaries of nations. Bishop Robert, the 
third of his line, erected the Church of St Regulus, and soon 
afterwards the noble Cathedral of St Andrews was begun, and 
slowly built up during a century and a half, and finally conse- 
crated in the presence of Robert the Bruce in the beginning of 
the fourteenth century. The See of Glasgow dates from the 
year 1116. In that year David, Prince of Cumberland, and 
afterwards King of the Scots, directed an inquest to be made 
regarding the See, which resulted in its being put in possession 
1 Collections, p. 230. Connel on Tithes, book i., chap. ii. 

a.d. 1100-l:J00.J DIOCESES AND PARISHES. 75 

of many valuable manors scattered over the whole south of 
Scotland. In the same century the Cathedral Church which 
still stands, the noblest architectural structure in the mercan- 
tile metropolis of the west, was begun. It was consecrated in 
1 197, and completed by Bishop Bondington, who died in 1258. 
At Dunkeld, as Mylne, the historian of the See, relates, Con- 
stantine III., King of the Picts, instituted a Culdee House 
about the year 729 ; which was converted into a cathedral 
church in the twelfth century, when David I. was pushing on 
his ecclesiastical reformation. The transmutation was facilitated 
by the first mitre being conferred upon the old Culdee abbot. 
Policy would dictate the offer, and ambition would embrace 
it. Thus was the new church system, erected on the ruins of 
the old ; ancient Culdee houses frequently forming the basis 
of the new cathedral churches. It is needless to trace the 
origin of all the bishoprics, as those we have given will 
illustrate the origin of all. 

The division of the land into dioceses was quickly followed 
by its division into parishes. The lord of the manor, led 
by the example of the monarch and his own English ideas, 
erected a church for the instruction of his vassals, and tithed 
the soil for the maintenance of the priest. The manor 
and the parish were thus in general identical. The parish 
being thus made coincident with the manor, frequently 
followed its future fortunes. If a detached piece of land 
was subsequently added to the original possession, it some- 
times became also a part of the parish, and this accounts for 
the divided and fragmentary character of some parishes at 
the present hour. On the other hand, when a large manor 
was subsequently split into several smaller ones, it sometimes 
was felt to be desirable that each should have a separate 
church, and thus the division of land was followed by a 
division of parishes. In this way the parishes of Crawford 
John, Roberton, and Symington branched off from the 
original parish and manor of Wiston. In other cases a 
thriving burgh sprung up in the midst of a parish, and required 
a church, a burial-ground, and baptismal font for itself. It 
was thus that the parish of Edinburgh was taken out of the 
heart of St Cuthbert's, and Aberdeen from the parish of St 
Machar. 1 Besides these, other causes concurred to the erec- 
tion of new parishes, and the division of old ones, and fre- 

1 Introduction to the first volume of Origines Parochiales. 


quently led to conflicting claims and bitter disputes about 
privileges and tithes, altarage dues, and fees for the baptism 
of infants, and for the burial of the dead. 1 

In tracing the origin of our parishes, we have, in fact, also 
traced the origin of tithes and patronage ; for when a parish 
church was erected, the tithes of the soil were required for 
the maintenance of the priest, and the lord of the manor 
very naturally assumed the right of presenting to the bene- 
fice. The system was the growth of circumstances rather 
than the result of any legislative plan ; but than it none better 
could have been devised to carry Christianity into every 
hamlet and every home. By dividing the land, it subdued it. 
The noble gave proof of his piety by endowing the Church 
with the tithes of his manor, and the Church more than repaid 
the benefit by its humanising influence upon the serfs who 
tilled his soil and followed his banner to battle. Even the 
right of patronage was then an unmixed good, for it bound 
the clergy to the native aristocracy, and so far freed them 
from the foreign domination of their spiritual head, and 
the ignorant villains had not yet dreamt of the indefeasible 
right of the Christian people to choose their own bishops and 

Before the parochial system had time fully to develop 
itself, and exhibit its capacity for reclaiming and instructing 
a whole population, it was well-nigh destroyed by the intro- 
duction of a new element. The parochial clergy, in a 
multitude of instances, were jostled out of their places by 
monks, or if allowed to continue at their work, they were 
cozened out of their legitimate revenues, which were appro- 
priated to the support of some Religious House, with a high 

1 The great extent of the ancient parishes, and the difficulty of passage 
to the parish church, frequently led to their division. Thus the parish of 
Glenbuchat was separated from the parish of Logie, because on one 
occasion, while the people of the Glen were on their way to the parish 
church to keep Easter, they were caught in a storm, and five or six persons 

We have said nothing of Chapels in the text. Very frequently a 
nobleman took a pride in having a chapel on his own grounds for the con- 
venience of his own household. These erections were numerous in Roman 
Catholic times. 

Collegiate Churches were the growth of the fifteenth century. They 
had no parishes attached to them. They were instituted for Secular 
Canons performing divine service and singing masses for the souls of their 
founders and their friends. They were governed by a Dean or Provost. 
Of such Collegiate Churches there were thirty-three in Scotland, 

a.d. 1100-1300.] MONKS. 77 

savour of sanctity. We have already alluded to the rise of 
monachism, and its introduction into Scotland by Columba 
and the Culdees ; but that primitive form of it had passed 
away, and now, with a new organisation and restored vitality, 
it came and reconquered the land. 

The first monks were completely independent of one 
another; they belonged to no order, and were obedient to 
no rule; but each, in his own cell, inflicted upon himself 
any amount of torture he pleased. But now they were all 
marshalled into different societies, and made subject to a 
particular discipline ; and from the fidelity and courage with 
which, in serried array, they fought the battles of the papacy, 
they have been appropriately called the militia of Rome. 
As opposed to the secular clergy they were called Regulars, 
because they followed some rule. The Augustinians followed 
the rule of St Augustine; and the Benedictines the rule of 
St Bennet. These were the two most ancient orders, and 
the most famous. Under the former were comprehended the 
regular canons of St Augustine, the canons of St Anthony, 
the Praemonstratenses, the Red Friars, and the Black Friars 
or Dominicans. Under the latter there were the Benedic- 
tines of Marmoutier, of Cluny, of Tyron ; the Bernardines 
or Cistercians ; and the monks of Vallis-Caulium. Besides 
all these, there were the Franciscans, the Carthusians, the 
Carmelites or White Friars, and others still of inferior name. 
Some of these did not come into existence till the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries ; for every age threw off its own 
swarm. The divisions we have given depended upon the 
rule which the Religious obeyed, the leader they acknow- 
ledged, or the place where they originated; but there was 
another division which crossed these — for all the orders we 
have enumerated subsisted either on the endowments which 
their houses had acquired, or by begging. They were there- 
fore divided into Rented Religious and Mendicant Friars? 
The Black, White, and Grey Friars were all mendicants. 
The rules under which the various orders lived were ex- 
tremely various — some excessively rigid, and others com- 
paratively mild ; but there were three vows common to them 
all — obedience, chastity, and poverty. 

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, an intense passion 
to found and endow monasteries seized upon Scotland. 
That of Dunfermline was founded by Malcolm Canmore ; 

1 Spottiswood's Religious Houses, also Walcott's Ancient Church of 


Coldingham, by Edgar ; Scone and St Columba on Inch- 
colm, by Alexander I. David, with pious prodigality, erected 
and endowed Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, Nevvbattle, Holy- 
roodhouse, Kinloss, Cambuskenneth, Dryburgh, and, besides 
these, a convent of Cistercian Nuns at Berwick-upon-Tweed. 
Many of these, however, were merely the transformation of 
ancient Culdee houses. Thus the revenues of the Culdee 
Monastery of Lochleven were bestowed on the Priory of St 
Andrews, and the Culdees were informed by the King in his 
Charter that if they chose to remain and obey the rules of 
the new-comers, they might, but that if not, they would be 
expelled from the island. The successors of these monarchs 
followed their devout example, and the nobles strove to 
emulate their kings. Many causes conspired to produce this. 
The monks and friars had a high repute for superior holiness, 
and they attracted the attention and won the veneration of a 
rude and superstitious age by the austerity of their lives, the 
fervour of their devotions, the fame of their preaching, and 
the self-inflicted pain of their penances. The rich and 
the great became their worshippers, and built them those 
beautiful houses, the very ruins of which still excite our ad- 
miration. Perhaps the noble, as he saw the abbey raising 
itself against the sky, with its ribbed doorways and richly- 
decorated windows, looked forward to the possibility of him- 
self becoming a brother of the order, when age had cooled his 
martial ardour, and taught him to prepare to die ; perhaps he 
was ambitious that a member of his family might be appointed 
its abbot ; at all events, he had chosen its sacred enclosures 
as the place of sepulture for himself, his countess, and their 
children, and he never doubted but that the endowments he 
lavished upon it would secure the repose of their souls. 1 

1 In the preface to the Origines we have examples of the operation of 
these motives. " In the reign of William the Lion, Robert de Kent gave 
a territory in Innerwic to the Monks of Melrose, adding this declaration, 
— And be it known, I have made this gift to the church of Melrose, with 
myself, and the monks have granted me their cemetery, and the service 
of a monk at my decease ; and if I be free, and have the will and the 
power, the monks shall receive me in their convent." (Lib. de Melrose, 
P- 59-) " Gilbert, Earl of Strathearn, and his countess Matildis, who 
founded the monastery in 1200, declared that they so loved the place that 
they had chosen it as the place of burial for them and their successors, 
and had already buried there their first-born, for the repose of whose soul 
chiefly it was that they so bountifully endowed the monastery. At the 
same time they bestowed five parish churches upon it."' (Lib. de Ins. 
Missar, pp. 3, 5.) 


Lauds, tithes, rights of pasture, of fuel, of fishing, were heaped 
upon the monks ; and when all else failed, the parish church, 
with its revenues, was annexed to the monastery, to be held by 
it for ever. In this case, a paltry pittance was reserved for 
the impoverished parish priest who served the cure ; or one 
of the monks performed the duty, and the monastery engulphed 
all. To such an extent was this system carried, that in the 
reign of William the Lion, no fewer than thirty-three parish 
churches were bestowed on the Abbey of Aberbrothock, then 
newly erected, and dedicated to St Thomas a Becket, the 
fashionable saint of the period, who for a season eclipsed 
even the glories of Mary. 1 At the time of the Reformation, 
of the thousand parishes in Scotland, about seven hundred 
had been appropriated to bishops and Religious Houses.- 

The parochial clergy were crippled and humbled by the with- 
drawal of their revenues to pamper the monks, and to such a 
state of poverty and dependence were some of the vicars re- 
duced, that the popes had to interfere to save them from the 
rapacity of the bishops and abbots ; 3 and ultimately James 
III. passed an act forbidding any further appropriations, under 
the pains of high treason. 4 But the evil was already done ; the 
secular clergy were degraded and wretchedly poor ; the 
revenues of the Church had gone to fatten idle friars, w r ho, 
whatever their primitive virtues may have been, were now the 
scandal of the Church ; and if it be true they defended and 
supported the papacy for a time, it is certain they made its 
downfall more dreadful in the end. 

Mr Spottiswoode, in his account of the Religious Houses 
that were in Scotland at the time of the Reformation, has 
enumerated one hundred and twenty monasteries, besides 
more than twenty convents for the reception of nuns ; and 
though his list is the fullest that has yet been given to the 
world, it is said there were at least other forty monastic 
establishments, which he has omitted to mention. There- 
must therefore have been nearly two hundred such institutions 

1 Origines, Introduction to vol. i. 

- Connel on Tithes, book i. The exact number of parishes before the 
Reformation is unknown. It is certain that very many ancient parishes 
have been suppressed since the Reformation. Thus, within the bounds of 
the Presbytery of Auchterarder, there must have been once nearly twice 
the number of parishes there are at present, the majority of the modern 
parishes being a combination of two or three ancient one>. 

:i Connel, book i., chap. iii. 

4 James III., pari, vi., chap. xliv. 1471 . 


in our country. We have no Monasticon from which we can 
learn the number of their inmates, but we may safely estimate 
them at between two and three thousand. 1 Dunfermline ap- 
pears to have had from thirty to fifty monks ; and Paisley, 
Elgin, Arbroath, Kelso, had probably as many. In 1542 
Melrose is said to have contained three hundred, but this is 
manifestly a great exaggeration. When the convent of the 
Grey Friars at Perth was demolished in 1559, only eight friars 
belonged to it ; but it is probable there had been a con- 
siderable number of deserters before this. 2 

Of Mr Spottiswood's list, forty-eight were occupied by 
Augustinian monks, thirty-one by Benedictines, and forty-one 
by the three orders of mendicants, viz., fifteen by the Domini- 
cans or Black Friars, seventeen by the Franciscans or Grey 
Friars, and nine by the Carmelites or White Friars. 

Of the Augustinian establishments, Scone, Lochleven, 
Monimusk, Pittenweem, Holyroodhouse, Cambuskenneth, 
Jedburgh, Inchaffray, Abernethy, &c, &c, were occupied by 
canons-regular. Whitehorn and Dryburgh were in possession 
of 'the Praemonstratenses ; and Red Friars were settled at 
Aberdeen, Dunbar, Dundee, and several other places. 

Of the Benedictine establishments, the most famous were 
those at Coldingham, Dunfermline, Kelso, Kilwinning, Aber- 
brothock, Paisley, Melrose, Newbattle, Culross, and Plus- 
cardin. All these monasteries were possessed of large reve- 
nues. They had great tracts of land, rights of pasture, of 
fishing, of hunting, of multure, besides the teinds of many 
parishes. Merely as landed proprietors the abbots must have 
exercised a prodigious influence. Many of them wore the 
mitre, had seats in Parliament, and exercised episcopal juris- 
diction over all the churches subject to the monastery. 

There was an establishment of Carthusians at Perth, 
founded by James I. ; but this brotherhood, in their white 
gowns, scapulars, and capuchins, were never to be seen in the 

1 In a note to Dalyell's Dissertation on Ane Booke of Godly Songs, there 
is mention made of an ancient memorial to the Queen Regent (we suppose 
Mary of Guise), in which there is an estimate of the religious foundations 
at that time in the kingdom. There were, according to it, 13 bishops, I 
Lord St John, 60 abbots and friars ; of Trinity Friars, Carmelites, Cor- 
deliers, &c, about 50 places ; provostries, about 50; 11 deans ; n arch- 
deans ; 1 1 chanters. The parsons are estimated at about 500 ; the vicars, 
2000 ; religious men and women, 1 114 ; other priests, 1000 ; in all, about 
4600 persons living on rents. 

2 See note to Dr M'Crie's Life of Knox, Period First. 


streets of St Johnstone, for their gloomy rule compelled them 
to eat in solitude, to observe a constant silence, and never 
to leave their cloisters. But every town in Scotland swarmed 
with the begging friars, black, white, and grey. The Domini- 
cans exercised their peculiar privilege of preaching everywhere 
without the permission of the bishop, and confessing all 
noble ladies and their lords, to the infinite chagrin of the 
curate, who had hoped to hear the secrets of the hall ; but, 
more especially, they had a keen scent for heresy, for to their 
order belonged the imperishable honour of having instituted 
the Inquisition, preached the crusade against the Albigeois, 
and poisoned with the hostie a refractory king. The bare- 
footed Franciscans prow r led about in their long grey gowns, 
with a cowl on their neck, and a rope about their waist, 
begging alms for the love of God ; and the Carmelites, who 
pretended to be the successors of Elijah and Elisha, were dis- 
tinguishable by their white habits, and competed with the 
other two mendicant orders for the veneration of the people. 
Unclean and odorous then as they are now, while the pious 
might be edified by their touch, the polite would not willingly 
remain long in close proximity to their persons. 

But it still remains for us to mention two celebrated orders 
—the Knights of St John and of Solomon's Temple, who, 
combining the military and monastic life, were wonderfully 
fitted to gain the admiration of an age at once martial and 
superstitious. The Hospitallers or Knights of St John took 
their rise from some merchants of Melphis, who, previous to 
the Crusades, had obtained from the Caliph of Egypt permis- 
sion to erect a church and hospital in Jerusalem for the enter- 
tainment of Christian pilgrims. Conspicuous for their bravery 
at the siege of the Holy City, when Godfrey led his victorious 
Crusaders within its walls, he bestowed upon them large pos- 
sessions, and from a church which they had erected in honour 
of St John, and an hospital for the reception of the sick, they 
derived the name by which they were known. Formed into a 
regular monastic-military order, they took a vow to defend 
pilgrims against the infidel Saracens, and assumed as their 
peculiar dress a black habit with a cross of gold, having eight 
points enamelled white, in memory of the eight beatitudes. 
Their ranks were soon filled with the most illustrious youth of 
Europe ; and so scrupulous were they in regard to those whom 
they admitted, that every entrant was obliged to prove his 
nobility for four generations, and that he had been born in 



lawful wedlock ; unless, perchance, he was the bastard of a 
king, for royal blood alone could wipe out the disgrace of 
illegitimacy. Introduced into Scotland by David I., where 
there were no pilgrims to defend, and no infidels to fight with, 
they yet found favour with the people, and acquired numerous 
residences, the chief of which was at Torphichen, where the 
Preceptor of the order resided. They had hospitals both in 
Edinburgh and Leith. 

The Templars, like the Hospitallers, were the offspring of 
the Crusades. The constant danger to which the kingdom of 
Jerusalem was exposed by the incursions of the infidels was 
the occasion of their institution. They followed the rule of 
St Augustine, and the constitution of the Canons- Regular of 
Jerusalem, and vowed to defend the temple and city, to 
entertain pilgrims, and guard them safely through the Holy 
Land. They wore a white habit, embroidered with a red 
cross ; and these martial monks soon became the terror of the 
Moslem, and the firmest bulwark of the Christian throne. 
Nine thousand manors scattered over Europe rewarded their 
services and courage, and enabled them to support a regular 
army for the defence of Palestine. They obtained a footing 
in Scotland about the same time as the Hospitallers, and soon 
there was scarcely a parish in which they had not some pos- 
session. In Edinburgh and Leith numerous houses belonged 
to them, and when these were feued to seculars, the cross of 
the order was affixed to the highest point of the gable to mark 
out its superiors. The temple near Southesk was their prin- 
cipal residence ; but those numerous designations of land still 
in use, in which the adjunct of temple occurs, are a pretty sure 
index of the ancient possessors. The Knights of the Temple 
fell as quickly as they rose. Their wealth begat insolence and 
pride ; their monastic vows were forgotten, amid the license of 
the camp and the court ; and the world was scandalised by 
the corruption, avarice, and imputed crimes of the soldiers of 
the Cross, who retained nothing of their first virtues but their 
fearless and fanatic bravery. The order was suppressed in 
the fourteenth century ; many of the knights were cruelly put 
to death for vices charged upon them, but never proved ; and 
in Scotland and elsewhere, a large part of their property was 
transferred to the Hospitallers. It has been suspected that 
their wealth hastened their ruin. 

It was not to be expected that the female mind, ever sus- 
ceptible of religious impressions, should withstand the tend- 

A.D. 1100-1500.] NUNNERIES. %3 

ency to monasticism at that time so prevalent. At Edinburgh, 
I )almulin, Berwick, St Bathans, Coldstream, Eccles, Hadding- 
ton, Aberdeen, Dunbar, and several other places, there were 
nunneries ; and within these, ladies connected with many of 
the noblest families in the land. The nuns of Scotland 
revered, as the first of their order in our country, a legendary 
St Brigida, who is fabled to have belonged to Caithness, to 
have renounced an ample inheritance, lived in seclusion, and 
finally to have died at Abernethy in the sixth century. Church 
chroniclers relate, that before Coldingham was erected into a 
priory for monks, it had been a sanctuary for nuns, who 
acquired immortal renown by cutting off their noses and lips 
to render themselves repulsive to some piratical Danes who 
had landed on the coast. The sisterhood of Lincluden were 
of a different mind, for they were expelled by Archibald, 
Earl of Douglas, for violating their vows as the brides of 
heaven, and the house was converted into a collegiate church. 1 

History contains no record of the influence which these 
devoted virgins exercised upon the Church or the world ; and 
we may believe that, shut up in their cloisters, and confined 
to a dull routine of daily duty, they could exercise but little. 
They would chant their matins and vespers, count their beads, 
employ themselves with needlework, and in many cases vainly 
pine for that world which their parents or their own childish 
caprice had forced them to abandon ; but the world could not 
witness their piety, nor penetrate their thoughts. Yet men 
are strangely moved by the very sight of walls, within which 
are enclosed women who have devoted their virginity to God, 
and who are supposed to serve Him without any admixture 
of those passions which mingle so largely in other breasts ; 
and no doubt the very existence of nunneries, and the reli- 
gious mystery which shrouded their inmates, must have had 
their power in moulding the piety of the times, though it was 
unconsciously exercised, and too secret in its operation to be 

Though the Roman hierarchy was long of obtaining a firm 
footing in our country, when once established it soon reached 
a height of power and opulence unsurpassed in any other por- 
tion of Europe. The barbarity and ignorance of our ancestors 
inclined them to superstition, and their superstition inclined 
them to prodigality. Before the Reformation one-half of the 
whole national wealth had passed into the hands of the clergy, 
1 Forbes's Treatise of Church Lands and Tithes, p. 22. 


which is proved by the fact, that they paid one-half of every 
tax imposed upon land, and there is little reason to believe 
that they would bear an unequal proportion of the burden. 1 
This enormous wealth must have been almost all accumulated 
in the course of four centuries — from the twelfth to the six- 
teenth ; and whatever use we make of it, we should not shut 
our eyes to the contrast between the religious liberality of the 
period which preceded, and that which has followed the Refor- 
mation. The entire riches of the Church were the result of pri- 
vate donations and bequests ; the free-will offerings of a piety, 
which, though mistaken, must have been sincere. Almost 
surpassing the lavish liberality of the kings, who thus alienated 
nearly all their royal demesnes, were the gifts of the great earls ; 
and in the thirteenth century we find with astonishment an 
Earl of Strathearn dividing his wide property into three por- 
tions, one of which he bequeathed to the See of Dunblane ; a 
second to the Abbey of Inchaffray; and the third only he 
reserved for the inheritance of his family. 2 

So large a proportion of the national wealth locked up, in 
our day, in the coffers of the clergy, who are excluded from 
putting out their coin to usury in mercantile transactions, 
would be an unmitigated evil, and would most seriously cripple 
the operations of trade. But it admits of question as to 
whether it was an evil four hundred years ago, or whether the 
soil could have been in better hands than in those of the 
ministers of religion ? There were few traders in those primi- 
tive times superior to pedlars, and their humble traffic required 
little capital. Had so many rich manors not passed into the 
possession of the Church, they must have remained in the 
possession of the great barons ; and surely it was well for the 
country that they were transferred from the men of war to the 
men of peace. 

The clergy everywhere introduced agriculture and the arts. 
Columba had fields waving with corn, and barns filled with 
plenty in his dreary island of Iona, when there were few corn- 

1 This is the estimate both of Dr Robertson and Dr M'Crie. Sir 
George Mackenzie estimates the tithes paid to the clergy at a fourth part 
of the rents of lands, and their lands at another fourth. Forbes remarks 
that the clergy were most justly subjected to the payment of the half of the 
taxt-roll in all public compositions. Keith says that it is ascertained by 
the public records that in the case of extraordinary taxations on land, one- 
third was paid out of the lands of the clergy. See Connel on Tithes, 
book i. chap. iii. 

2 Fordun, Scotichron, lib. viii. c. 73. 

\.D. 1100-1500.] HUMANISING INFLUENCES. 85 

fields or granaries in Scotland. St Mungo, according to the 
legend, " yoked the wolf and the deer to his plough," and the 
legend has its much meaning. Around every monastery were 
extensive orchards, with trees grafted by the hands of the 
monks, and laden with fruits nowhere else to be found in the 
country. The industry and arts of the monks were copied by 
their dependents, and the traveller could at once discern, by 
the superior cultivation of the fields, and the more contented 
look of the peasantry, the districts that belonged to the 
Church. The clergy were confessedly the best landlords ; they 
gave feus, and let out their farms upon long and easy leases, 
and in this way they encouraged the reclaiming of moors and 
marshes which might otherwise have lain waste to the present 

The immunity from war enjoyed by the Church and its vas- 
sals greatly favoured the improvement both of the land and of 
those who tilled it. The retainers of the fierce barons, who 
divided with the clergy the property of the soil, were con- 
stantly harassed by military duty ; they were liable at any mo- 
ment to be called upon to join in a raid against the English 
or some hostile chief in the neighbourhood, to burn, plunder, 
and slay; and amid such scenes, they lost all relish for the 
arts of peace; besides, they were at all times subject to 
have retaliated upon themselves the havoc they had wrought 
upon others ; and few men will sow fields when there is a 
strong probability that others will reap them. The tenants 
and retainers of the clergy were happily free from all this, and 
were liable to be called to arms only on urgent and general 
occasions ; and so great was the respect for their possessions, 
that even in the case of national hostilities, they were generally 
spared. The clergy, with admirable prudence, encouraged 
this lenity, not only by the powers of superstition, but by 
checking anything like a marauding disposition on the part of 
their dependents; and the consequence was, that they enjoyed 
the blessings of perpetual peace in the midst of turmoil and 
war ; they had light in their dwellings when darkness was in 
the land of Egypt. 

But the clergy were not only the greatest agricultural im- 
provers ; they were the most learned men of the time, and, in 
fact, monopolized all the learning of the period. It was in the 
still cloister that the lamp of knowledge was kept burning, and 
had it been exposed to the rude winds of heaven in those stormy 
days, it would infallibly have been blown out. Notwithstand- 


ing the many pictures we have of overgrown and lazy monks, 
sleeping away their whole lives amid the drowsy atmosphere 
of their conventual buildings, or spending their days and 
nights in wassail, swilling Bourdeaux, and rejoicing in venison, 
e^en in Lent — pictures which are perfectly true to life ; yet it 
must be remembered that this was not always, and never uni- 
versally the case. Many of the ancient clergy were thoughtful 
and studious men, adepts in the scholastic theology then in 
vogue, and well read in the canon and civil law, a knowledge 
of which was the surest road to ecclesiastical and political 
distinction. We must not be so ungrateful as to forget that, 
before the invention of printing, it was monkish pens that 
multiplied copies of the sacred Scriptures, and preserved to us 
those Greek and Roman classics which at length revived in 
Europe a love for literature, and which still delight and im- 
prove us in our hours of ease. It is the unwritten saying ot 
Chalmers, that the accumulated revenues of the rich diocese 
of Durham were not misspent, since they had encouraged and 
fostered the genius of Butler : may it not be said, with still 
greater propriety, that our monasteries were not endowed in 
vain, if they have preserved to us our Homers and Virgils, and 
above all, our Bibles ? 

Without the assistance of the clergy, the business of the 
State could not have been conducted. A knowledge of let- 
ters was esteemed unbecoming on the part of the nobility; and 
Tytler declares, that during the long period from the accession 
of Alexander III. to the death of David II., it is impossible to 
produce a single instance of a Scottish baron who could sign 
his own name. 1 As a matter of course, almost the whole work 
of legislation fell into the hands of the clergy, and the fighting 
was left to the lay lords. The bishops and mitred abbots 
formed by far the most influential section of the parliament, 
and filled almost all the important offices of State. The Lord 
Chancellor was the first subject in the realm ; and of fifty- 
four persons who held this high office from the dawn of 
history to the death of Beaton, forty-three were churchmen. 
The Lords of Session were supreme judges in all civil affairs ; 
and by the original constitution of the College of Justice, the 
president and one-half of the senators must needs be eccle- 

siastics. 2 

A power so great was not unattended with honour. Most 

1 History, vol. ii. 

2 Robertson's History of Scotland, vol. i. Crawford's Officers of State. 

A.D. 1100-1500.] CHURCH CHRONICLES. 87 

of the dignified churchmen belonged to the first families in 
the land, and many of them were closely allied to royalty. 
Not only bishops, but abbots, took precedence of the greatest 
earls, and every clergyman was entitled to have " Sir " ap- 
pended to his name, if he had not the higher academic title of 
" Master." 1 They managed to exempt their persons from the 
jurisdiction of the civil tribunals, as too sacred to be there 
dealt with ; and the reputed sanctity of the sacerdotal charac- 
ter was enough at all times to screen the delinquent priest 
from the hands of justice or the fury of, private revenge. To 
assault an ecclesiastic was a crime for which nothing but death 
could atone. 

It is to churchmen, moreover, we owe the earliest annals 
of our country. At a period when we have not a single 
chronicle of political events, we have numerous Lives of the 
Saints, and all of these throw less or more light upon the 
general history of the times. Adamnan, Bede, Jocelin, 
Ailred, Turgot, have given us glimpses of the flow of events 
and the state of society in their day — regarding which, but 
for them, there had been impenetrable gloom. But every 
great monastery in Scotland appears to have kept three dif- 
ferent kinds of registers, and many of these have survived 
the waste of time and the zeal of the Reformers, and they 
now form the principal guide of the historian in traversing 
these dark ages. The first was a general one, giving an 
account of the principal events, according to the years in 
which they occurred — as the Book of Paisley, and the 
Chronicle of Melrose. The second was an Obituary, in 
which were recorded the deaths of the abbots and priors, the 
kings and great nobles, and the chief benefactors of the 
monastery. The third was their Chartulary, in which were 
carefully transcribed the charters granted them by kings 
or pious nobles who had endowed their house, the bulls of 
the popes, a statement of their revenues, taxes, leases, and 
lawsuits, and a multitude of other minute particulars, no 
more intended to serve for history than the accurate accounts 
of an exact housekeeper, but which do in reality, above all 
other documents, illustrate the spirit and character of the 
times. Of these are the Book of Dunfermline, the Register 

1 There is a curious instance of this in the trial of Walter Mill the 
martyr. When he was addressed Sir Walter, he repudiated the title, de- 
claring he would no longer be one of the pope's knights. See Spottiswood's 
History, Fox, &c. 


of Arbroath, the Chartulary of Inchaffray, and many others, 
most of which have recently been brought from the shelves of 
our great libraries and the charter-chests of our nobles, and 
given to the world by the labours and liberality of the Banna- 
tyne and Maitland Clubs. 

We must still further award to the monasteries the honour 
of having been the first Educational Institutions in the 
country. The Monastery of Iona was as much a seminary 
for learning as a school of piety ; and there can be little 
doubt but that the other Culdee establishments took it for 
their model, and that from them there issued men, not merely 
practised in monkish austerities, but accomplished in the 
scanty literature and science of the day. At a subsequent 
period, when Roman ideas became dominant, it was custom- 
ary for the Scottish clergy to resort to Oxford or Paris to 
complete their education, as their native country was still 
unprovided with Universities ; and this led David, Bishop of 
Moray, in the year 1325, to found the Scots College at Paris, 
for the reception of his countrymen. But though Scotland 
could not yet boast of a University, it was not without 
schools. So early as the twelfth century, there were schools 
at Abernethy and Roxburgh, at Perth and Stirling, and soon 
after at Glasgow, Ayr, Berwick, and Aberdeen, and probably 
in many other places, though we have no record of their 
existence ; and all these were necessarily under the manage- 
ment of the clergy. The monks of Kelso had the charge 
of the school at Roxburgh, and the monks of Dunfermline 
of those at Stirling and Perth. But besides, almost every 
monastery must have been less or more a seminary of educa- 
tion for the sons of the nobility and aspirants to the priest- 
hood. We know it was so at St Andrews, where the youth 
ambitious of literary fame was instructed in the quodlibets 
of Scotus ; and in the Chartulary of Kelso we find a certain 
Matilda, widow of Richard of Lincoln, Lord of Molle, making 
a grant of rents to the abbot and monks to board and edu- 
cate her son William with the best-bred boys entrusted to 
their care. 1 

Last of all, it must not be forgotten that monasteries 
served at once as inns and poor's-houses, when regular hos- 
telries were scarce, and poor-laws unknown. The hospitality 

1 Chart, de Cal., f. 71. I have derived my information about our early 
schools chiefly from Tytler's History, vol. ii., the Origines, and a note in 
the Appendix to Dr M'Crie's Life of Knox. 

a.D. 1100-1500.] MONASTIC HOSPITALITY. 89 

of the monks was proverbial. The traveller, overtaken by 
night, was sure to find a kindly welcome, a cheerful supper, 
and a wholesome though hard bed, in the first convent he 
came to. The brothers of the order counted the news he 
brought from the wide world, and perhaps a small coin 
bestowed at the shrine of a favourite saint, as a sufficient 
recompense. It is so in many Catholic countries at the pre- 
sent hour. But the wants of the poor as well as of the 
wayfarer were attended to. The beggar in his distress, 
afraid to approach the baronial hall, came crouching to the 
convent-gate, and it was not often that assistance was refused. 
It is related, that in the reign of David I. a sore famine pre- 
vailed in Scotland. Four thousand half-famished wretches 
repaired to the Abbey of Melrose, reared their huts in its 
neighbourhood, and waited for the beneficence of the bre- 
thren ; and Waltheof, the Superior, ordered them all to be 
fed. There is something touching in the lament of Father 
Hay on the fall of the Monastery of Iona. " The monks," 
says he, " were driven away, and the revenues turned to pro- 
fane uses ; whence the poor were defrauded of continual alms, 
strangers of entertainment, the servants of God of their neces- 
sary food and clothing, the souls of the pious faithful of their 
sacrifices, the church of as many prayers, and God of the wor- 
ship due to Him." 1 

From the rapid sketch we have here given of the rise of 
our ecclesiastical institutions, it will be seen that the union of 
Church and State in our country was the growth of circum- 
stances, rather than the result of any specific legislation. No 
Act of Parliament proclaimed it. Churchmen gradually 
acquired lands and tithes by voluntary grants ; and the State 
protected them in the enjoyment of these, as it would have 
done any other class of its subjects. The holders of property 
had a right to sit in the Parliament ; and thus bishops and 
abbots acquired their seats, and, on account of their sacred 
functions, came to be regarded as a separate Estate. Eccle- 
siastics alone could perform marriages and draw wills, the 
necessity being a religious one in the one case, and a literary 
one in the other ; and hence they naturally acquired a juris- 
diction in all matrimonial and testamentary affairs. From 
the time of James I., it was the pious practice of almost 

1 Scotia Sacra, p. 487. In Roman Catholic times there were also many 
hospitals, endowed by the pious, superintended by the clergy, and 
specially designed for the entertainment of strangers and the poor. 


every Parliament to begin its business by an Act ratifying 
all the rights and privileges of the Church ; but, in truth, 
every subject was entitled to the same justice which was thus, 
in a complimentary manner, rendered to the Church. Every 
religious body has this kind of establishment now, in as far as 
every religious body is protected by law in the enjoyment of 
its property and privileges, and is amenable to law for the use 
of these. 

It is unnecessary to say much regarding the liturgical rites 
of the Scottish Church, but it were wrong to overlook them 
entirely. The Culdees had a liturgy peculiar to themselves, 
which they boasted to have derived from St Mark. 1 There 
is still in the Advocates' noble library a MS. liturgy, 
described, though without authority, as Liturgia Sancti 
Columbani Abbatis, written in the Anglo-Saxon or Irish 
character, and which probably dates as far back as the 
eleventh century. 2 There is in the possession of the family 
of Perth another MS. Missal or Sacramentary, written in a 
similar character, and equally ancient. We may regard 
these as belonging to the Culdee period. At what time 
the Roman liturgy superseded the Culdean we cannot 
exactly determine, but we may infer that the Roman ritual 
came with the Roman hierarchy. It was the use of Sarum 
that prevailed in Scotland, as it did in a large part of England 
and Ireland. 

This usage derives its origin from St Osmund, who was 
Bishop of Salisbury towards the close of the eleventh cen- 
tury. 3 It differed in some particulars from the ritual of the 
Church of Rome, but such differences were not thought to 
interfere with the unity of religious worship. In fact, in the 
Romish communion, considerable liturgic latitude was allowed ; 
and bishops were permitted, within certain bounds, to pre- 
scribe liturgies to their own Churches. In the fifteenth cen- 

1 Usher's Religion of the Ancient Irish. 

2 My information upon these ancient liturgies is derived from the Pre- 
face to the Aberdeen Breviary, written by Dr Laing. Bannatyne Club 

8 " lie (Bishop Osmund) buylded there a new chyrche, and brocht 
thyther noble clerkes and cunnynge of clergye and of songe, soo that this 
byshop hymself shonned not to wryte and lymme (illuminate) and bynde 
bukis. Also he maid the ordynall of the servyce of the holy chyrche, and 
named it the Consuetudynarie. Now well nygh all Englonde, Wales, and 
Irelonde used that ordinall." (Polychronicon, lib. vii. chap, hi., quoted 
in Preface to Aberdeen Breviary.) 

a.d. 1100-1500.) ANCIENT LITURGIES. 9 1 

tury, it was believed that the use of Sarum was introduced into 
Scotland by Edward I. 1 There was an absurd tradition that 
he had destroyed all the old Scottish Service-Books, and intro- 
duced the Anglican one. But we have good evidence that 
the usages of the Salisbury Cathedral had been introduced 
into the country long before, and in a more peaceful way. 
We have already seen the Saxon St Margaret fleeing to Scot- 
land, marrying its king, setting herself zealously to reform its 
Church. We have seen her arguing with Culdee monks, and 
by a royal, though erroneous arithmetic, correcting their calen- 
dar. Her biographer farther informs us that she found the 
mass celebrated with barbarous rites, which she laboured 
to abolish, and managed to introduce a new and a better 
form. 2 It was undoubtedly the more ornate usage of some 
Anglican Church. But our knowledge becomes more defi- 
nite when we descend a single century. Herbert was con- 
secrated Bishop of Glasgow in 1147; and we know that he 
settled the use of Sarum in his cathedral, and that this was 
shortly afterwards confirmed by a Papal bull. 3 It soon became 
universal : it was used at St Andrews, Moray, Aberdeen, in 
every cathedral and church in the kingdom. 

We have still preserved in our public libraries many old 
Service-Books, but none of these can now be identified as 
having belonged to the Church. In truth, the Service-Books 
in use in the churches must have almost all perished at the 
Reformation, when it was esteemed a work of piety to burn 
them. But, happily, the Breviary of Aberdeen still remains to 
us, " which is the only existing use proper to Scotland, and is 
therefore of importance to those who regard with interest such 
an authentic record of the forms and usages of the Scottish 
Church." 4 This great work was prepared and completed under 

1 The following is Blind Harry's account of the matter : — 

11 The Bishoppis all inclynit to his croun, 
Baith temporal and the religioun ; 
The Romane bukis that thar wer in Scotland 
He gart thame beir to Scone, quhair they thame fand, 
And, but redeme, they brynt thame all ilk ane, 
Salisbury use, our clerkis than his tane." 

? " Praeterea in aliquibus locis Scottorum quiclam fuerant, qui contra 
tot*us Ecclesias consuetudinem, nescio quo ritu barbaro missas celebrarc, 
consueverant, quod regina, zelo Dei accensa ita destruere atque annihilate 
studuit, at deinceps qui tale quid presumerit, nemo in tota Scottorum gente 
appareret." It has been argued from this passage that the Culdees cele- 
brated the Lord's Supper in the primitive form. If it do not prove that, 
it warrants the belief that up to this time the Culdees were ignorant of 
many of the ceremonies superadded by the Romish Church. 
3 Preface to the Aberdeen Breviary. 4 Ibid. 


the superintendence of the celebrated William Elphinstone, 
Bishop of Aberdeen; 1 and it is probable that some of the 
lessons appointed to be read on the festivals of the Scottish 
saints were written by himself. It challenges a still higher in- 
terest, from the fact that the art of printing appears to have 
been first introduced into Scotland to multiply copies of it for 
the use of the churches. 2 

Tytler is of opinion that organs and choirs were used in 
Scotch cathedrals as early as the thirteenth century. 3 At that 
time there lived a Scottish friar of the order of St Dominic, 
named Simon Taylor. At Rome and Paris, we are told, he 
applied himself to the study of that part of the mathematics 
which treats of sounds and harmony, and became a mighty 
proficient. Returning to Scotland, he found the music of the 
churches rude and barbarous, and burning with a musician's 
zeal, he made a proposal to reform it ; and when the bishops 
and clergy accepted his services, he set himself to the work 
with such energy and success, that an ancient historian of the 
Bishops of Dunblane declares, that in a few years he brought 
matters to such perfection that Scotland might have competed 
with Rome for musicians. This Simon Taylor further showed 
his musical lore by publishing four treatises, entitled De Cantu 
Ecclesiastico Corrigendo, De Tenore Musicali, Tetrachordorum, 
and Pentachor doming 

His improvements, however, do not seem to have been 
universally acknowledged even by those who lived nearer his 
time, for he was not well in his grave till we find St ^Elred, in 
his " Mirror of Charity," thus breaking forth against the 

1 It is now reprinted by both the Maitland and the Bannatyne Clubs. 

2 Up till this time, the Service-Books in use in the churches were in 
MS., or printed in France, with the Scotch saints added to the calendar in 
writing. But on the 15th September 1507, James IV. gave a grant of 
privileges to Walter Chepman and Andrew Millar, two burgesses of Edin- 
burgh, who had undertaken to procure and bring home printing materials. 
In this charter of privileges we have this clause : — " It is devisit and thocht 
expedient by us and our counsall, that, in tyme dimming, mess builds, 
manualis, matyn buikis, and portuis buikis, efter our awin Scottis use, and 
with legends of Scottis Sanctis, as is now gadderit and eket by ane Reverent 
father in God and our traist counsalour William, bischope of Aberdene, 
utheris be uset and generally within our realme, als soone as the sammyn 
may be imprentit and providit, and that na manner of sic buikis of Salus- 
berry use be brocht to be sauld within our realm in time aiming, and gif 
ony does the contrair that they sail tyne the sammyn." (Registrum 
Secreti Sigilli, vol. Hi. fol. 29.) 

3 History, vol. ii. 4 M'Kenzie's Lives of Scotch Writers. 

a.d. 1100-1500.] MUSIC. 93 

modernized music: — "Since all types and figures are now- 
ceased, why so many organs and cymbals in our churches ? 
Why, I say, that terrible blowing of bellows, that rather imi- 
tates the frightsomeness of thunder than the sweet harmony of 
the voice? For what end is this contraction and dilatation of 
the voice? One restrains his breath, another breaks his 
breath, and a third unaccountably dilates his voice, and some- 
times, which I am ashamed to say, they fall a quivering like 
the neighing of horses \ then they lay down their manly vigour. 
and with their voices endeavour to imitate the softness of 
women; then, by an artificial circumvolution, they have a 
variety of outrunnings; sometimes you shall see them with 
open mouths, and their breath restrained as if they were ex- 
piring, and not singing, and, by a ridiculous interruption of 
their breath, seem as if they were altogether silent; at other 
times they appear like persons in the agonies of death ; then y 
with a variety of gestures, they personate comedians, — their 
lips are contracted, their eyes roll, their shoulders are moved 
upwards and downwards, their fingers move and dance to every 
note ; and this ridiculous behaviour is called religion, and 
where these things are most frequently done, there God is said 
to be most honourably worshipped." 1 Those in our own day, 
who object to organs and choristers, could desire no more 
vehement advocate than this Roman abbot. 

The last echoes of the choral singing have long since died 
away ; but the cathedrals and churches, whose long aisles were 
once filled with them, still remain, some of them almost entire, 
others in ruins, and from these we may infer the splendour of 
the ancient ritual, and the vast resources at the disposal of the 
ancient clergy. Inferior in size to the great minsters of 
England, they yet rival them in their noble romanesque and 
pointed architecture ; and though the country has increased a 
hundredfold in wealth since the time of the Reformation, we 
have not since that period erected one building that will vie 
with the cathedral of Glasgow or Elgin. But, perhaps, above 
all others, the great cathedral of St Magnus at Kirkwall, lifting 
its massive buttresses and walls, and its richly-mullioned 
windows, almost from the waste of waters, proves the power 
and splendour of the hierarchy which could have reared such 
a structure in such a solitude. Its foundations were laid, and 
a large part of it built, by a Norse earl, in the twelfth century, 
under the influence of a superstition which could convert 
1 M'Kenzie's Lives, vol. i. 


pirates into the founders of churches ; but it was not the 
wealth of the earl alone that gave to the Orkneys their High 
Church ; the building was so liberally helped on by the obla- 
tions of a devout age, that all Christendom was said to have 
paid tribute for its erection. 

The Culdee houses were originally built of timber; Candida 
Casa, and the church of Abernethy, were probably exceptions 
to the rule. We have already spoken of the ancient Monas- 
tery of Iona as being of wood ; and Bede expressly tells us 
that the Church of Lindisfarne was constructed of logs of oak 
and thatched with reeds, after the custom of the Scots. All 
these humble structures have perished. The noble stone 
churches which still stand — too many of them in ruins — were 
all reared between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries. It 
is almost certain that not one of these ecclesiastical buildings 
belongs to a period prior to the first of these dates ; but from 
this time, till near the dawn of the Reformation, church-build- 
ing went on at such a pace as to have called forth the splenetic 
remark, that the Gospel could not be heard for the sound of 
the hammer and trowel. Some of these ecclesiastical struc- 
tures were chiefly reared by royal or baronial munificence, but 
the great proportion were reared by churchmen. Bishops set 
apart for the purpose large sums out of their episcopal re- 
venues ; every benefice in the district was taxed ; subscrip- 
tions throughout the whole country, sometimes throughout all 
Christendom, were set on foot ; the sale of indulgences was 
resorted to ; and so the worshipful Freemasons were employed 
and paid ; and the ribbed column and groined roof still testify 
to the exquisite skill with which they handled their mallet. 

The history of the artificers who reared these edifices is 
somewhat curious. In the thirteenth century the Pope 
created a number of Italian, Flemish, and French artizans, 
with some Greek refugees, into a corporation of Freemasons, 
giving them high and exclusive privileges ; and these travel- 
ling in companies from country to country, as there was 
occasion for their skill, are said to have reared many of the 
finest religious houses. The same mouldings, even to minute 
details, have been observed in buildings far separated from one 
another, proving that they were erected either by the same 
artificers or from the same designs. It is probable that these 
same men partly designed, as well as executed, the plans ot 
their buildings ; but it is also certain that ecclesiastics were 
the chief architects of the time, as they alone possessed such a 

a.D. 1100-1500.] CATHEDRALS. 95 

knowledge of mathematics and the mechanical arts as to fit 
them for the task. It has been observed, however, as a cir- 
cumstance full of meaning, that no man knows the names of 
the architects of the cathedrals. " They left no record of 
themselves upon the fabrics, as if they would have nothing 
there that could suggest any other idea than the glory of that 
( rod to whom the edifices were devoted for perpetual and 
solemn worship ; nothing to mingle a meaner association with 
the profound sense of His presence : or as if, in the joy of 
having built Him a house, there w r as no want left unfulfilled, 
no room for the question as to whether it is good for a man to 
live in posthumous renown." 1 

But though the names of the architects of our cathedrals 
have perished, we are able to glean from our ancient records 
some hints regarding their builders. Bishop Jocelin it was 
who laid the foundation of the High Church of Glasgow, and 
two years before he died he had the satisfaction of seeing its 
unrivalled crypt finished and solemnly consecrated. To 
Bishop Bondington we owe the magnificent choir. We next 
find the Chapter purchasing timber on the banks of Loch- 
lomond " for the fabric of their steeple and treasury," and 
bargaining that their workmen should have free entry to the 
forest, and the right of felling, hewing, and dressing the w r ood 
wherever they pleased. In the Breviary of the Scottish 
Church we find a lesson appointed to be read commemorating 
the skill of the builder of another of her minsters — St Gilbert 
of Moray, who reared the cathedral of Dornoch. " He built 
it with his own hands," says the Breviary; and it is recorded 
that the glass used for the windows was manufactured at 
Ciderhall under his own eye. About the same period the 
cathedral of Elgin was lifting up its lofty towers on the oppo- 
site shores of the Moray Frith. Bishop Andrew laid its 
foundation, and the records of the See give us a glimpse of 
Master Gregory the mason, and Richard the glazier, at their 
work. But in 1390 the Wolf of Badenoch descended from the 
hills, and gave the noble building to the flames ; and the 
bishop, in his complaint to the king, fondly speaks of it as 
having been " the pride of the land, the glory of the realm, 
the delight of wayfarers and strangers, a praise and boast 
among foreign nations, lofty in its towers without, splendid in 
its appointments within, its countless jewels and rich vest- 

1 Gladstone, quoted in Quarterly Keoiew, June 1 849. 


ments, and the multitude of its priests serving God." 1 It 
afterwards, however, rose from its ruins, and by the liberal 
contributions of the faithful attained to at least its pristine 
magnificence. Thus were our great cathedrals founded and 
built. Designed by unknown architects, reared by travelling 
companies of masons, paid for by bishops out of the fruits of 
their benefices, and assisted by the free-will offerings of the 
people, they still stand, monuments of what may be done by 
piety in spite of poverty. 


Our last chapter has been occupied more with the rise of 
institutions than with the course of events. It will be our duty 
now to trace these from the introduction of the Latin Hier- 
archy to the dawn of the Reformation. The field, though 
wide, is by no means crowded with ecclesiastical occurrences 
deserving of record. The higher clergy were very generally 
occupied with affairs of State ; attending upon parliament, 
taking a part in embassies, acting in councils of regency ; and 
the parsons and vicars who ministered in our parishes have 
left few memorials of their humble labours. In many cases it 
is impossible to dissever^ religious from political events, so 
closely were they interwoven, and kings as well as bishops must 
be introduced upon our canvass. 

Some good men have longed for the complete identification 
of Church and State. Now, saving the fact that the Roman 
clergy had elevated themselves into a distinct caste, and claimed 
for themselves peculiar powers and privileges, the devout 
desire was much more nearly realised then than it is now. 
Religion and politics in our day are divided, as if their union 
were unnatural and wrong. The clergyman is bid to refrain 
from the least allusion to political topics, and the slightest 
sympathy with political contentions, and the member of par- 
liament is thought to offend good taste, if not to violate the 
rules of the House, if he introduces any pious reflection or 
doctrinal discussion into his speech. There is room for doubt, 
if men do not thus put asunder things which God hath joined. 
In the mediaeval ages, it was different; the Church and the State, 

1 See an interesting article in the Quarterly Review for June 1849, on 
Scottish Abbeys and Cathedrals. 


if not completely one, with the same laws and the same law- 
givers, were yet much more closely allied. Ecclesiastics were 
the principal politicians, and in Parliament they framed 
statutes for the government of the Church as well as of the 
kingdom. What is now called Erastianism was then little un- 
derstood, and a law for the benefit of the Church was not 
thought to be the worse of having emanated from the State. 
The Church, of course, did form a separate community ; but its 
councils were rare, and their canons comparatively few, and in 
this country, at least, it had very little individual action. The 
king and the bishops were generally at one, even in contests 
with the Pope ; and happily Scotland never produced a 
Thomas a Becket. 

The archbishops of York at a very early period asserted 
their primacy over the Scottish bishops. This probably 
arose from the circumstance of the Lothians having anciently 
formed a part of the kingdom of Northumberland, and from 
the other circumstance that, when Christianity was carried from 
Iona to Lindisfarne, it radiated thence northwards as well as 
southwards, and the powerful prelates of York, forgetting 
whence they had originally received their own consecration, 
began to arrogate jurisdiction over their brethren in Scotland, 
who had as yet no primate amongst themselves. When Alex- 
ander I., with the approbation of his clergy, had chosen 
Turgot, the confessor and biographer of his sainted mother, 
to the See of St Andrews, it so happened that the Archbishop 
of York was in the position of having been elected, but not 
yet consecrated, and as a rumour had reached Canterbury 
that, with the assistance of the Bishops of Durham and the 
Orkneys, he was about to consecrate Turgot, Anselm, then 
Primate of All England, wrote an imperious letter to his 
brother of York, absolutely prohibiting such consecration, 
and ordering him to compear at Canterbury, and be conse- 
crated himself. York bowed its head before Canterbury, but 
did not relinquish its pretensions. While the two English 
archbishops were thus at war, the Scotch clergy maintained 
that neither of them had the right to what they laid claim. 
The decision of the triple controversy was evaded for the 
time, by the Kings of England and Scotland agreeing that the 
former should enjoin the Archbishop of York to consecrate 
Turgot, with a special provision that the authority of neither 
church was to be thereby compromised. Upon that understand- 
ing, Turgot received consecration on the 30th of July 1109. 1 

1 Hailes's Annals, vol. i. 


Upon the death of Turgot, Alexander wrote a letter to 
Ralph, the successor of Lanfranc and Anselm in the See of 
Canterbury, in which he artfully insinuated that in ancient 
times the bishops of St Andrews were wont to be consecrated 
either by the Pope himself or the Archbishop of Canterbury ; 
that it was merely by sufferance that the Archbishop of York 
had ever exercised the right ; and that this assumption of 
power could no longer be permitted. It is evident that the 
Scottish monarch wished to fight York with Canterbury, and 
to leave it undecided, if, after all, the Pope alone did not pos- 
sess the coveted jurisdiction. The stratagem was skilful, and 
the time chosen opportune ; for Thurstin of York, otherwise a 
formidable opponent, was at present half powerless by his own 
want of consecration, and the battle might have been quickly 
fought and won. 1 But delays took place, years slipped past, 
and still St Andrews remained without a bishop. 

At length the Scottish monarch despatched a 
letter to the English primate, in which he cen- 
sured himself for having so long allowed the flock to wander 
in the wilderness without a shepherd, and prayed him to set free 
Eadmer, one of his monks, that he might be raised to the 
Episcopate of St Andrews. The request was complied with, 
and Eadmer, loosed from his monastery, began his journey to 
the north; but he carried with him a letter from the Arch- 
bishop to the king, counselling that he should be sent back 
without loss of time to receive consecration. On his arrival 
in Scotland he was instantly elected to the vacant See by the 
clergy and people, under the sanction of the king — language 
which would seem to imply that the laity of St Andrews had a 
voice in the election of its bishops. Next day Alexander had 
an interview with the bishop-elect in regard to his consecration, 
and when Eadmer hinted at the pre-eminence of Canterbury 
over all the British churches, the monarch rose up, and broke 
off the conference with the strongest symptoms of displeasure. 
A month passed away before the king would again see the 
bishop ; but then a compromise was come to, by which it was 
agreed that Eadmer should receive the ring from Alexander, 
take the pastoral staff off the altar, as receiving it from the Lord ; 
and then, without more ado, assume the charge of the diocese. 2 

1 Hailes's Annals, vol. i. 

2 Ibid. Eadmer himself has given us an account of these trans- 
actions, and authenticated his statements by original documents. Lord 
llailes follows Eadmer, so that he may be regarded as a safe guide. 

A.D. 1120.] EADMER. 99 

In the meantime, Thurstin was in Normandy with the Eng- 
lish king, and, hearing of what was going on, he prevailed 
upon Henry to write to the Archbishop of Canterbury, pro- 
hibiting him from consecrating Eadmer; and also to Alexander, 
forbidding him to allow the consecration. All this disturbed 
the new bishop ; he felt his influence in Scotland to be weak; 
his favour with the king at an end ; some reforms he had de- 
signed had miscarried ; and, above all, he was uneasy in regard 
to his consecration. He therefore craved permission to return 
to Canterbury and receive the blessing of the archbishop. 
Alexander refused the request, and reminded him that he had 
come to him altogether free. Eadmer retorted that he would 
not abdicate the honour of being a monk of Canterbury for 
all the kingdom of Scotland. The aspect of affairs grew daily 
worse, and the clergy in a body supported the king. In these 
circumstances, the perplexed prelate asked his friends what 
he should do, and they gave it as their opinion that he must 
either submit or leave the kingdom. His High Church prin- 
ciples prevented him from taking the former course, and so he 
returned the ring to Alexander, laid his crosier upon the altar, 
whence he had taken it, and returned to Canterbury, whose 
pretensions he had maintained with such unbending firmness, 
that neither ambition nor the love of independence could tempt 
him to set them aside. 1 

During the reign of the same monarch, and in the year 1 122, 
the ambitious Thurstin again made trial of his strength, by 
requiring canonical obedience from the Bishop of Glasgow, but 
it was peremptorily refused ; and when the Archbishop ot 
York affected to suspend him from his episcopal functions, he 
appealed to Rome, and proceeded thither in person. The 
Bishop of St Mungo's appears to have gained his case, for 
when he still farther indulged his wandering propensities and 
went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and lingered for months 
with the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Pope very properly re- 
called him, and enjoined him to return to his bishopric. 2 In 
1 1 23 Thurstin found still another opportunity to exert his pre- 
rogative. An English monk, named Robert, who had been 
Prior of Scone, was elected to the See of St Andrews, and the 
old question of consecration arose. Alexander died, and 
David I. came to the throne before the dispute was terminated. 
At length, in 1128, an arrangement was agreed upon, which 
allowed the consecration of the bishop to be proceeded with, 
1 Hailes's Annals, vol. i. 2 Ibid. 




but left the question of the liberties of the Scottish Church un- 
decided. Thurstin was allowed to lay his episcopal hands 
upon Robert ; and, at the same time, he executed an instru- 
ment by which he made it known to all men, present and 
future, that he had done so without any profession of obedi- 
ence, solely for the love of God and King David, and without 
compromising either the claims of York or the rights of St 
Andrews. 1 

The prelates of York, though resisted at St Andrews and 
Glasgow, made a show of extending their jurisdiction still 
farther to the north. At this period they were in the habit 
of consecrating bishops of the Orkneys, and one of these we 
find with Thurstin in the English ranks at the battle of the 
Standard. As the Orkneys were at this time held by the 
Norwegians, and the constant scene of piratical warfare, it is 
difficult to believe that these Yorkshire bishops could ever set 
foot in their diocese ; and we can account for the title they 
bore only by supposing that the primates of England had hit 
upon an expedient similar to that followed by Rome in our 
day, of appointing bishops to Sees in partibus infidelium. In 
the records of the cathedral of York there are also three 
entries of bishops of Glasgow in the eleventh century, who 
were never heard of on the banks of the Clyde. The proud 
prelates appear to have preferred a train of imaginary suff- 
ragans to none at all. 

The reign of David I., which commenced in 1124, is the 
most important in the history of the Church before the Refor- 
mation. He wrought a change in ecclesiastical affairs almost 
as great as that which was subsequently accomplished by 
Knox. He in effect built up that which Knox, when it was 
in a state of decay, pulled down. He drave out the now anti- 
quated Culdees, and introduced prelates and priests \ Knox 
cast out the prelates and priests, and brought in Protestant 
preachers. The proceedings of the one, as well as of the 
other, are frequently spoken of as a Church reform. It is 
certain that David remodelled our whole ecclesiastical polity. 
He originated the hierarchy, and gave it its splendour. Nearly 
the half of our bishoprics, and the abbeys of Kelso, Holyrood- 
house, Melrose, Newbattle, Cambuskenneth, Kinloss, Dryburgh, 
and Jedburgh, were founded by his munificence. He brought 
several orders both of the Augustinian and Benedictine monks 
into the country, transplanting them from the great monas- 
1 Warton's Anglia Sacra. 

a.d. 1124.] uavid's church reformation. ioi 

teries of France and England ; and it was under his favour 
that the Templars and Knights of St John took up their 
residence at Southesk and Torphichen. Many may think 
that the Celtic monks were better than their Latin successors, 
but it is certain they had degenerated since the days of 
Columba, that the church had sunk into decrepitude, and that 
new life required to be infused into it. 

It is probable that David further wished to reform the whole 
State by the instrumentality of the Church, and to soften and 
refine the ferocity of the existing manners by a more educated 
clergy, and a more splendid ritual. " By his early converse 
with our countrymen," says William of Malmesbury, speaking 
of David, " his manners were polished from the rust of Scot- 
tish barbarity." It is not improbable the Anglicized monarch 
invited Anglican ecclesiastics into his kingdom, that they might 
confer upon his subjects the benefits he himself had received 
from his intercourse with the south. A far-seeing policy might 
also discern in the intelligence and wealth of the clergy a 
counterpoise to the exorbitant power of the turbulent barons ; 
and whether David perceived the result or not, it is certain 
that the Church in almost every emergency stood fast by the 
throne, and helped to preserve a proper balance in the State. 
But whatever opinion we may form of David's policy, it is 
impossible to doubt of his piety; and his piety was happily of 
that healthy kind which made him neither faint-hearted nor 
weak-handed. He was strong in battle, wise in counsel, and 
merciful in the administration of justice to the poor. All 
historians are agreed that no better king ever sat upon the 
throne. His death was the appropriate termination of a well- 
spent life ; for the monkish historian relates that, on a Sunday 
morning in May, just as the sun began to penetrate the dark- 
ness of night, his spirit, escaping from all earthly shadows, 
passed into the true light with such calmness that he did not 
seem to be dead, and with such devotion, that he was found 
with his hands clasped and stretched out toward heaven. 1 

David was succeeded on the Scottish throne by his grand- 
son, Malcolm IV. ; and, during his reign, Roger, Archbishop 
of York, having obtained from Rome legatine powers over all 
Scotland, summoned its clergy to meet him at Norham. The 
Archdeacon of Glasgow, the Prior of Kelso, and some other 
clergy obeyed the citation, but they did so only that they might 
appeal to the Pope ; and proceeding to Rome, they procured 
1 Aldred. ap. Fordun, lib. v. cap. lix. 




a bull of exemption from Alexander III. 1 But this ancient 
battle of our Church for spiritual independence was not yet 
come to an end. 

On the death of Malcolm, his brother William, surnamed 
the Lion, was crowned king in 1165, and immediately set his 
heart upon the recovery of Northumberland from the English. 
Forming a confederacy with the rebellious son of Henry II., 
he marched into England, and laid waste the country with fire 
and sword ; but his enterprise was brought to an abrupt con- 
clusion by his being surprised and captured by a body of the 
enemy's horse. All Scotland was thrown into confusion and 
dismay by the loss of its king, and negotiations were instantly 
opened for his ransom. But Henry knew the full value of his 
prize, and resolved to part with it for no mean return. After 
three months consumed in vain attempts to lessen his demands, 
the Scotch ambassadors, who had repaired to Normandy, pur- 
chased the liberty of their king by surrendering the independ- 
ence of the nation. The independence of the Church had 
well-nigh perished with that of the kingdom, but the dexterous 
diplomacy of the Bishops of St Andrews and Dunkeld made 
the clauses affecting it so indefinite and ambiguous, as to leave 
the discussion of the old question open for the determination 
of happier times. It was provided that the Scotch Church 
should yield to the Anglican bishops such subjection as it 
ought of right and was wont to yield — words capable of two 
very different renderings. 2 It was not long before the Scottish 
clergy had an opportunity of asserting the sense in which they 
understood them. 

In the year 11 76, Cardinal Huguccio Petrileonis, the Pope's 
legate, held a council at Northampton. Both Henry and 
William graced it by their royal presence. The English clergy 
resorted to it in great numbers. The Scottish clergy came 
thither also, aware of the important questions that were to be 
mooted, and resolved to maintain their rights. Huguccio, in 
papal pride, sat upon a seat higher than the rest, and the other 
ecclesiastics occupied positions according to their rank. The 
important subject was broached, and the Scottish clergy were 
required to fulfil the treaty of Normandy, by yielding to the 
English Church that obedience which they ought to yield and 
were wont to yield. The cardinal, according to Boethius, 
made a prolix speech, counselling submission, and expatiating 

1 Spottiswood's History, book ii. Hailes's Annals, vol. i. 

2 Rymer's Foedera, vol. i. p. 30, 31. 


upon the advantages that would arise from the union of the 
Churches. The Scottish clergy, however, neither daunted by 
the presence of the king, nor persuaded by the arguments of 
the legate, nor deterred by the thought that they were on 
English ground, maintained that they never had yielded sub- 
jection to the Anglican Church, nor ought they to do so now. 1 

The bold eloquence, on this occasion, of a young canon 
named Gilbert Murray, is celebrated by our ancient historians. 
" The Church of Scotland," said he, " ever since the faith of 
Christ was embraced in that kingdom, has been a free and 
independent Church, subject to none but the Bishop of Rome, 
whose authority we refuse not to acknowledge. To admit any 
other for our metropolitan, especially the Archbishop of York, 
we neither can nor will." When the Scottish canon had ended 
his speech, the Archbishop of York stepped up to him, and 
said, " That arrow came not from your own quiver.'' 2 

As the discussion proceeded, the Archbishop of York 
affirmed that the Sees of Glasgow and Galloway especially 
were subject to his authority. Jocelin pleaded that Glasgow 
was expressly exempted from any such obedience by papal 
authority. 3 What the Bishop of Galloway replied is not 
recorded ; but at this point in the debate the Archbishop of 
Canterbury interfered, and declared that it was to Canterbury, 
and not to York, that the Scottish clergy must yield canonical 
obedience. The altercation which ensued between the 
Primate of England and the Primate of All England was the 
salvation of the Scottish Church ; for though the Anglican 
clergy might have failed to establish any ancient usage in 
support of their claims, royal and legatine authority would 
have more than supplied the defect of precedents. The king 
and the cardinal bewildered, and probably disgusted by so 
many conflicting claims, broke up the assembly, and the 
Scotch ecclesiastics returned home free and unfettered. 

But the Church of Scotland had hardly escaped 

this danger, when it was involved in a more 

serious quarrel with a more formidable opponent. In 1178 

the Archbishop of St Andrews died, and John Scot, an 

archdeacon of the See, was elected by the chapter in his 

1 Fordun's Scotichron., lib. viii. c. 25. 

- This young canon is the Gilbert who built the cathedral of Dornoch, 
and was sainted after his death. 

:i Registrum Epis. Glasg. i. 35. Robertson's Concilia Eccles. Scot., 
Pref. xxxvi. 


room. The king appears to have been taken by surprise, for 
when he heard of the election, he swore by the arm of St 
James that John would never be Bishop of St Andrews. He 
was not a man to vow and not perform. He seized upon the 
episcopal revenues, compelled the other bishops to consecrate 
his own chaplain, called Hugh, and forthwith put him in 
possession of the bishopric. John appealed to Rome, and 
set out thither to look after his interests. The Pope appointed 
a legate to proceed to Scotland, to hear and determine the 
case ; and he, in an assembly of the Scottish clergy at Holy- 
rood, pronounced judgment for John, and solemnly conse- 
crated him. William had forborne thus far, but now he 
banished John and all his abettors from the kingdom, and by 
preserving Hugh in the benefice, set the Pope and his legate 
at defiance. 

Thus thwarted and defied, the Roman pontiff issued a 
mandate to the Scottish clergy, ordering them to yield 
canonical obedience to John, and to bear in mind it was 
their duty to obey God and the Church rather than man. 
Not satisfied with this, he commanded the bishops forthwith 
to excommunicate Hugh ; and entrusted Roger, Archbishop 
of York, with legatine powers over Scotland, with instructions 
to excommunicate the king, and put the kingdom under an 
interdict, if John were not put in possession of St Andrews. 
John, who was a learned man, and who seems also to have 
been a good man, now interposed, and declared that he 
would rather renounce his dignity for ever, than that the 
masses said for the souls in purgatory should be intermitted 
for one day. But the Pope loved power better than the souls 
in purgatory, and so he commanded the yielding bishop, by 
his canonical obedience, to be firm. 1 

The Roman pontiff at this period was Alexander III., one 
of the ablest and most ambitious of the long line of able and 
ambitious men who have sat in the chair of St Peter. In the 
Council of Lateran, he had solemnly deposed the Emperor 
Frederic Barbarossa, absolved his subjects from their oath of 
allegiance, and encouraged them to rise in rebellion. The 
emperor retaliated by marching upon Rome, compelling the 
proud pontiff to flee for his life, and setting Pascal on the 
apostolic throne. The fortunes of Alexander, however, 
gradually recovered, and Frederic was glad in the end to 
make terms of peace with him, and as some have affirmed, to 
1 Hailes's Annals, vol. i. Spottiswood's History, book ii. 


allow the triumphant priest to put his foot upon his neck. 
It was the same troubler of kings that encouraged a Becket 
to wage his spiritual warfare against Henry of England, and 
though the primate paid the penalty of his presumption with 
his blood, foully spilt before the high altar of Canterbury, 
he was everywhere worshipped as a martyr, William of 
Scotland himself raised a monastery in his honour, while 
Henry was compelled to go bare-footed to his tomb, and sub- 
mit to be scourged as a penance. When William thought of 
these things he might well tremble and yield ; but to yield 
was not the temper of the man. Frederic had yielded ; 
Henry had yielded ; but William never. He seems to have 
had a singular pleasure in adorning the tomb of one prophet 
of High Church principles, and in strenuously resisting the 
pretensions of another. 

At length, in the year 1181, the Archbishop of York, as 
papal legate, fulminated a sentence of excommunication 
against the unbending monarch, and in conjunction with the 
Bishop of Durham, who was joined with him in the pontifical 
commission, laid the whole kingdom of Scotland under an 
interdict. 1 

Happily for William, death rid him of his enemy. At the 
critical moment Alexander died, and was succeeded in the 
pontifical chair by Lucius III., and the King of Scotland 
lost no time in sending ambassadors to kiss his toe, and 
request his benediction. The embassage was eminently suc- 
cessful : the sentence of excommunication was reversed, the 
interdict recalled, and in the bull issued by the new pontiff, 
it is specially set forth, that to reverence kings is an apos- 
tolic precept. After some difficulty and delay, the dispute 
about St Andrews was ingeniously settled, by both claimants 
resigning their pretensions into the hands of the Pope, when 
the Pope anew appointed Hugh to St Andrews, and John to 
Dunkeld, which happened at that time to be vacant. Lucius, 
still further to assure William of his friendship, sent him the 
golden rose and his blessing. 2 A great victory had undoubt- 
edly been won. 

A few years later, Clement III., Servant of the 

Servants of God, addressed a bull to his most 

dear son William, illustrious King of the Scots, and his suc- 

1 Hailes's Annals, vol. i. Robertson's Concilia, Pief. xxxviii. 

2 Hailes's Annals. Spottiswood's History. 


cessors, 1 by which he set aside for ever the pretensions of 
Canterbury and York, and established the national independ- 
ence of the Scottish Church. By this bull it is declared — 
"That the Church of Scotland is a daughter of Rome by 
special grace, and immediately subject to her ; that the Pope 
alone, or his legate a latere, should have power to pronounce 
sentence of interdiction or excommunication ; that none 
should be capable of exercising the office of legate except a 
Scottish subject or a member of the sacred College of Cardi- 
nals ; and that no appeal concerning benefices should lie out 
of Scotland unless to the Court of Rome." 2 

Thus Scotland, to escape from the domination of England, 
placed herself under the broad shield of Rome, and Rome, 
by a masterly stroke of policy, received and protected the 
suppliant. But though our country was thus cast more 
completely into the bosom of the papacy, it was well that 
the pretensions of York and Canterbury were upset, for had 
it been otherwise, the ecclesiastical victory might have 
paved the way for a political one ; the sense of independence 
being broken down in one sphere, might have yielded more 
readily in another ; and, at all events, had the Churches 
become one, the Reformation would have taken the same 
course in both countries, and whichever form of worship — 
the Episcopal or Presbyterian — had prevailed, it would not, 
in ah probability, have exhibited the same moderation as both 
these have happily exhibited in the sister countries ; for who 
will doubt that the one has helped to check the excesses of 
the other ? 

It is worthy of notice, that at the very time the Church of 
Scotland was most strenuously asserting its independence, 
and repudiating the pretensions of York and Canterbury, it 
was quietly moulding its government and worship after the 
Anglican model, and inviting to its bishoprics, its abbacies, 
and its richest benefices, an Anglican clergy. Its cathedral 
constitutions were in general copies of English ones already 
existing. The chapters of Glasgow and Dunkeld are said 
to have been taken from that of Salisbury; and of Elgin, 
Aberdeen, and Caithness, from that of Lincoln. As with the 

1 Spottiswood quotes under this date a bull of Pope Innocent III. ; but 
Innocent III. did not become Pope till 1199- In 1208, however, he 
issued a bull confirming the privileges of the Church, and Spottiswood has 
evidently confounded the two. 

2 Robertson's Concilia, Pref. xxxix. 

a.v. 1100-1200.] ANGLICANISM. 1 07 

cathedrals, so with the monasteries. Dunfermline was an 
offshoot of Canterbury, Coldingham of Durham, Dryburgh of 
Alnwick, Paisley of Wenloch, Melrose of Rievaulx. The 
catalogues of early bishops and abbots show how many of 
these were of Norman or Saxon, and how few of Celtic 
descent. Their names are generally enough to testify to 
their blood. Some of them belonged to the Norman and 
Saxon families who had recently settled in every district of 
Scotland, but the great majority of them were brought from 
the monasteries of England to fill the high offices in the 

This tendency to conform the Church of Scotland to that 
of England undoubtedly arose, in a great measure, from the 
influence of those English settlers, who were now rapidly 
obtaining, together with extensive territory, an ascendency 
in the councils of the kingdom. But we must also remember 
that, in copying Anglican models, the Church of Scotland 
only copied models which were now universally prevalent, 
from the wide-spread dominion of Romish ideas. The Church 
of Scotland, in short, by conforming itself to England, only 
conformed itself to Rome. But that the Church should have 
exhibited, at the same time, a determined resistance to 
English supremacy, and a fond desire for English conformity, 
is not a little remarkable ; and the fact becomes still more 
remarkable when we reflect that the battle of the Church's 
independence was chiefly fought and won by Anglo-Norman 
priests ; just as, in the age that followed, it was Anglo-Norman 
knights who achieved on Bannockburn the independence of 
the nation. 1 

The bull which secured the independence of the Church 
was brought to Scotland by John, Cardinal de Monte Celio, 
who also brought, as a gift from the Roman pontiff to the 
king, a sword richly set with precious stones, and a purple hat 
in form of a diadem. While this cardinal was in the king- 
dom, a convention of the clergy was held at Perth, in which 
all priests who had received ordination on Sunday were de- 
posed, and a canon framed ordering Saturday from twelve 
o'clock to be observed as a holiday, and that the people at the 
sound of the bell should repair to church, and desist from 
their several crafts till Monday morning. 2 Thus, in the 
twelfth century, was a law passed, under the auspices of a 

1 Bruce, Randolph, Douglas, were all of Anglo-Norman descent. 

2 Spottiswood's History, book ii. 


Roman legate, establishing the Saturday half holiday, which 
the crafts in the present day have managed to recover for 
themselves. 1 

The Crusades had now been raging for nearly a hundred 
years. Swarm after swarm of nobles and knights, of priests 
and peasants, had crossed the Bosphorus to combat with the 
infidel Moslem for the city where our Saviour had died and 
the sepulchre where he had lain, till Europe seemed to be 
loosened from its foundations, and hurled against Asia. 2 The 
victorious arms of Saladin had, towards the close of the twelfth 
century, recovered almost everything that had previously been 
lost, and Jerusalem was once again in the hands of the infi- 
dels. But Christendom could not yet relinquish a land asso- 
ciated with so much that was hallowed in religion, and now 
rendered doubly dear by the hundreds of thousands of Chris- 
tian warriors who had perished by sword, famine, or plague 
upon its plains. A third Crusade was organized. Philip 
Augustus of France and Richard of England took the cross, 
and lent their wisdom and valour, the dignity of their royal 
names, and the resources of their great kingdoms, to the 
chivalrous enterprise. In order to convert a dangerous 
neighbour into a firm friend, and prompted also by his 
generous nature, Richard, before his departure for Palestine, 
restored to William the Lion everything which had been 
extorted from him while in captivity by Henry II. ; and, in 
return, William agreed to pay to Richard ten thousand 
merks sterling — thus furnishing sinews for the Holy War — 
and to send with him his own brother David, Earl of Hunt- 
ingdon, with a band of Scottish knights, to share in the 
dangers and glory of the expedition. 3 A few years later, 
Scotland contributed two thousand merks to redeem Richard 
from the captivity in which he was basely kept by the Em- 
peror of Germany; but it is more than probable that this 
was an unpaid instalment of the ten thousand originally 

William, before the close of his reign, appears to have made 

1 It is a singular circumstance, also worthy of being noted, that, in the 
reign of James 1. , an act was passed very similar to the Forbes Mac- 
kenzie Act. " It is ordained that na man in burgh be foundin in tavernes 
of wine, aill, or beir after the straik of nine hours, and the bell that sail 
be rung in the said burgh." (Pari, xiii., chap, cxliv.) 

2 This was the figure of the Princess Anne, daughter of the Emperor 
Alexius. (Gibbon, chap, lviii.) 

3 Hailes's Annals, vol. i. 

a. a 1190.] RIGHTS OF SANCTUARY. 109 

an effort to reform the evils which had arisen in Scotland and 
throughout all Europe, from religious houses having the rights 
of sanctuary — where the greatest criminals were safe, and law 
lost its power. He sought the advice of the Pope as to how 
he should deal with malefactors who had sought an asylum in 
the churches. Innocent III., in his rescript, made answer — - 
" That if the person who retires into a church be a freeman, 
he must not be forced from thence, nor punished with the loss 
of life or limb, even for the most atrocious offences ; but 
every other punishment which the law authorises may be 
inflicted upon him. Public robbers, however, and they who 
spoil the country by night, may be dragged out of churches, 
and this is no violation of the rights of sanctuary. If the per- 
son who retires into a monastery be a slave, he must be 
restored to his master after that his master has promised upon 
oath not to inflict any punishment upon him." 1 In an age 
when law is weak and revenge strong, it is possible to recog- 
nise the prudence and policy of having sanctuaries and cities 
of refuge, where the manslayer or other criminal may find a 
safe asylum from the avenger of blood, till guilt be proved and 
justice vindicated; but it is neither prudent nor politic to 
allow any place, however sacred, to shelter criminals, not only 
from private resentment, but from public law. The rights of 
sanctuary, as defined by Innocent III., must have seriously 
weakened the hands of justice in Scotland. 2 

In the papal rescript there is mention of slaves. It seems 
incredible to many that there should have ever been slaves 
in our country, and yet true it is that there were. There is 
ample documentary evidence to prove that a considerable pro- 
portion of the labouring population must have once been in 
this sad condition. 3 They were generally, though not always, 
attached to the soil, and bought and sold with it like beasts 
of burden. Their children and their children's children for 
ever were the property of their lord, and accordingly their 

1 Hailes's Annals, vol. i. Deer. Greg. iii. 44-6. 

2 Among the statutes of Alexander II., in the Regiam Majestatem, is 
one anent — ''Them wha fleis to halie kirk," It is provided that in the 
case of those who declare themselves guilty but penitent, they must restore 
what they have stolen, swear upon the gospels they will never steal again, 
and then pass out of the realm till reconciled to the king. In the case of 
those who declare themselves innocent, they will be protected till they are 
tried, and then they must abide the law. 

3 In the Regiam Majestatem there is a complete code of laws in regard 
to native bondsmen, book ii. chap, xi.-xiv. 


genealogies were carefully preserved, not from ancestral pride, 
but to serve as title-deeds do in the case of houses and lands. 
In the year 1178 William the Lion makes a grant of Gillan- 
drean Macsuthen and his children to the monks of Dunferm- 
line. 1 In 1258, Malise, Earl of Strathearn, bestowed upon the 
monks of Inchaffray, in pure and perpetual alms, Gilmory 
Gillendes, and this he does at Kenmore, on the day of the 
annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. The same pious earl, in 
the same year, bestowed upon the same religious house John 
Starnes, the son of Thomas and grandson of Thore, with his 
whole property and children which he had begotten or might 
beget ; and this he did for the salvation of his own soul, the 
souls of his predecessors, and the souls of his successors for 
ever. 2 In some ancient documents there is mention made of 
clerici nativi, and these Tytler thinks must be serfs who had 
become clerks, and still continued to be serfs ; but we know 
that personal slavery was inconsistent with the sanctity 
anciently ascribed to the clerical character, and are rather 
inclined to believe that the clerici nativi were bondsmen be- 
longing to the Church. 3 

Slavery existed in Scotland, and the Church of Scotland gave 
it its sanction ; but it must be remembered that a similar ser- 
vitude existed at the time in almost every country of Europe, 
and was probably nearly inseparable from the state of society 
which then existed. It was undoubtedly different from the 
negro slavery which till recently existed in the Southern States 
of America, 4 and more nearly resembled the serfdom which 

1 Chartulary of Dunfermline, fol. 13. 
- Chartulary of Inchaffray. 

3 Tytler's Hist., vol. ii. The view taken in the text is supported by 
the 13th chapter of the Regiam Majestatem, which is entitled, " Bond- 
men should not be promoved to halie orders." It starts with the proposi- 
tion — " Servile condition is not capabill of the orders or honours of 
clerks." It is provided that if a slave, with the knowledge of his master, 
receives orders, he thereby becomes free ; if without the knowledge of his 
master, he may be given back to slavery ; but in that case he is stripped of 
his orders. 

4 In the Regiam Majestatem it is provided that a slave cannot purchase 
his liberty with his own property, for his property is already his master's ; 
but if his master defile his wife, or draw blood of him above his breath, 
or allow him to remain unchallenged for seven years on another man's pro- 
perty, he is free. 

It is amusing to find the Regiam Majestatem basing the institution of 
slavery upon the same scriptural argument as the American slave-owners 
were accustomed to use. " Bondage and servitude take ane beginning 
frae the drunkenness and ebrietie of Noah (for he pronounced Cham to be 
servant of servants to his brethren — Gen. ix. 24)." (Chap, xiv.) 


has now been happily abolished in Kussia, where it had lin- 
gered longer than in any other European country. It con- 
tinued in Scotland till the fifteenth century, but had gradually 
been losing ground, and then it disappeared ; but curious 
enough, driven from the surface of the soil, it took refuge in 
the mines, and lingered there in a modified form till last 
century. 1 

In 1 2 14 King William died at Stirling, and was buried in 
the Abbey of Aberbrothock, which he himself had so mag- 
nificently founded and endowed. He was succeeded on the 
throne by Alexander II., who soon found himself involved in 
a war with John, the reigning King of England. This weak 
and passionate prince had first foolishly bearded the Pope, 
and then stooped so low as to accept the crown of England 
from his hands, and acknowledge himself the vassal of Rome. 
To war with England was now to war with the Holy Catholic 
Church, and this guilt was contracted by the king. Such im- 
piety could not pass with impunity ; and accordingly Gualo, 
the Pope's legate, came to Scotland, and excommunicated 
Alexander with his whole nobility ; and to borrow the words 
of Balfour, " interdicted the kingdom from the use of any 
religious exercise, and solemnly, with book and bell, cursed 
all of whatsoever degree or quality that carried arms against 
King John." 2 

A papal interdict was the most awful ecclesiastical punish- 
ment that could be inflicted upon a guilty country ; and was 
then generally regarded with the utmost consternation. The 
doors of the churches were shut, the services suspended. The 
images of the apostles and saints were taken from their pedes- 
tals, and placed upon the ground. Marriage could be per- 
formed only in the church-yard above the graves of the dead. 
No other sacrament saving baptism could be administered. 
The dying must be without the consolations of religion : for 
their souls no mass could be said ; by their coffin no dirge 
could be sung — they must be buried like dogs. The whole 
population must continue under the wrath of God for a time, 
till the anger of the Pope should be assuaged. There is reason, 
however, to believe that the interdict was not felt in Scotland 

1 In some mining districts, till very lately, the miners were made over 
from one proprietor to another, together with the mines. It was the same 
with salters. They were ascriptce glelxx — and could not be sold elsewhere. 
(Erskine's Institutes, bk. i. tit. vii. 61, and note.) 

2 Annals, vol. i. 


in its utmost severity. The White Monks possessed the 
privilege of officiating at such times ; and this they now 
diligently did, till they also were suspended by the legate, 
under the highest spiritual censures, from performing their 
merciful functions. 1 

From February 1 2 1 7 till February 1 2 1 8, our sanctuaries and 
high places were a desolation ; but before the latter of these 
dates, Alexander, abandoned by his French ally, was glad to 
seek and find reconciliation with Rome. Now came the re- 
moval of the interdict. The Prior of Durham and the Dean 
of York came to Scotland as the deputies of the legate, 
" making their progress," according to Balfour, " from Berwick 
to Aberdeen, and absolved the kingdom from Gualo's curse 
and interdiction ; and in their return home to England, being 
lodged in the Abbey of Lindores, the Prior of Durham was 
burned to death in his chamber, which took fire in the night 
by chance, his chamberlain being very drunk, and he fast 
asleep." 2 It appears that these deputies had also a commis- 
sion to wring as much money as they could from the parish 
priests, many of whom, as a further penance, were compelled to 
go barefooted to the door of the church, and ask absolution in 
the most abject form. 

The extortions of Gualo roused the indignation of the 
Scottish clergy, and three bishops proceeded to Rome to com- 
plain. On professing repentance, they easily obtained pardon; 
and the avaricious legate was compelled to disgorge one-half 
of his ill-gotten gains, which the Pope appropriated to himself, 
thus dividing the spoil with the spoiler. A cardinal who stood 
by remarked sneeringly, in reference to the mock penitence 
and absolution of the bishops, " that it was the duty of the 
pious to confess a crime even where no fault had been com- 
mitted." 3 

A few years after this, a bishop of Caithness was horribly 
mutilated and burned alive in his own house at Hawkirk by 
the people of his diocese. A quaint annalist says, " that 
he was leading poor people's corn too avariciously ; " 4 in other 
words, he was a rigorous exacter of tithes. The " Chronicle 
of Melrose " says that, like the good shepherd, he laid down his 
life for the sheep, rather than allow them to remain in their 
pristine ignorance as to the duty of giving a tenth to the 

1 Spottiswood's Hist., book ii. - Annals, vol. i. 

' 5 Spoctiswood, book ii. Hailes, vol. i. 
4 Balfour's Annals, vol. i. 


church. 1 The Saga of Orkney gives a more minute account 
of the murder, and of the causes which led to it. It would 
appear that it was customary in Caithness to pay to the bishop 
a spa fin of butter for every twenty cows, but Bishop Adam 
exacted his spann for every fifteen, and then for every twelve, 
and ultimately for every ten. The dairymen of the north could 
not stand this, and seizing upon the greedy prelate, they roasted 
him at his own kitchen fire. 2 His death was amply avenged. 
A massacre was made of the peasantry. The Earl of Orkney, 
who it was thought might have stilled the tumult, had a large 
part of his property confiscated, and hardly escaped with his 
life, which he did not preserve very long, for a few years after- 
wards he was assassinated and burned in his own castle by his 
own servants, who it was suspected had been instigated to this 
studied mode of revenge. The murdered bishop was venerated 
in the Church as a martyr to the divine right of tithes, and 
ranked with St James, St Stephen, and St Laurence. 

The Scottish clergy about this time represented 
I22 ^' to Honorius IV. that, from the want of a metro- 
politan, they could not hold a council ; that in consequence of 
this, many crimes were committed without punishment, and 
many abuses allowed to grow up without the power to correct 
them. The Pope listened to their statements, and gave them 
permission to call provincial councils by the direct authority 
of the Apostolic See. The bishops met in virtue of this 
authority and appointed one of their number to be Conserva- 
tor of their Statutes, and this official acquired considerable 
power in the Church. The king, on his part, appointed two 
doctors of civil law to attend these councils, and see that 
nothing was done in them to the prejudice of the State. We 
do not know how often they met, as we have no regular re- 
cord of their proceedings \ we only know that within fifty 
years of the bull which gave them being they framed some 
fifty or sixty canons, which were in force down to the Refor- 
mation ; but some of these we recognize as the product of 
old legatine councils, and others are borrowed from the coun- 
cils of other countries and general canon law. 3 

In 1230 Henry III. invited Alexander to York, where the 
two monarchs kept Christmas together, and feasted right 
royally for fourteen days. Amidst the festivities, the Cardinal 

1 Chronicon de Mailros, fol. 38, Ban. ed., p. 139. 

2 Ork. Saga, p. 421. Torfaeus, lib. c. 40, quoted in Origines. 

3 Robertson's Concilia, Pref. l.-lv. 



Deacon, who was legate in England, hinted to our monarch 
his intention of visiting Scotland, to inquire into ecclesiastical 
affairs. " I have never seen a legate in my dominions," replied 
Alexander, "and as long as I live I never will." The king 
said something more about the ferocity of his subjects, which 
might endanger the life of a visitor so obnoxious. The Italian 
took alarm, and abandoned his journey for a time ; but some 
years after he came northwards, and was again withstood by 
the king, who would not allow him to cross the border till he 
obtained from him a written declaration that the present per- 
mission would not be drawn into a precedent. 1 The cardinal 
came to Edinburgh, held a council there, and levied some con- 
tributions from the clergy, but he was studiously avoided by 
the king \ and apparently finding that little could be done, he 
returned to England without proceeding farther to the north. 
The Pope had condescended to publish a bull, declaring that 
it would evince a want of maternal affection to send a legate 
to England and not to Scotland ; but it is plain that our an- 
cestors never appreciated these proofs of his love. 

Under the sanction of the papal bull, a Provincial Council 
was held at Perth in 1242, in which grievous complaint was 
made that nobles and knights were withholding their tithes, and 
otherwise sinning against the privileges of the Church ; for 
even then all men were not equally loyal. But the pious 
monarch, attended by some of his great barons, came to the 
council and warned all men, of whatever degree, against 
violating the immunities of the Church or doing wrong to 
churchmen ; and the royal warning had a salutary effect for 
all the years of his reign. 2 

The spirited resistance to papal extortion and encroachment 
exhibited by Alexander II. was continued by his successor 
Alexander III. In 1266 Cardinal Ottobon de Fieschi, after- 
wards Adrian V., while legate in England, attempted to raise 
in Scotland, as a procuration, six merks from each cathedral, 
and four merks from each parish church — an enormous sum, 
as the annual value of the parsonages at this period did not 
average more than ten merks, each merk, though it counts but 
t 3s. 4d., being capable of purchasing a chalder of meal. 3 The 

1 Matthew Paris, Hist. Angl., p. 377. 

2 Fordun, Scotichron, lib. ix. cap. 59. 

3 " The following examples," says Lord Hailes, "will give a notion toler- 
able correct of the salaries of parish priests during the reign of Alexander 
III. Ten merks of silver, six acres of arable ground, and one acre of 

a. d. 1263.] THE CRUSADES. I T 5 

king prohibited the contribution, and appealed to Rome ; and 
the clergy generously raised amongst themselves two thousand 
merks to defray the expenses of the suit. So large a sum, it 
is evident, could be used only for bribery, but it was known 
that no empty-handed suitor ever gained a case in the papal 

Foiled in his attempts at extortion, the legate, 
3 ' two years afterwards, summoned the Scottish 
clergy to attend a council in England ; four of them went, but 
only to decline its jurisdiction, and observe its proceedings ; 
and though canons were passed affecting our Church, they 
were held as null and void. 1 

The Roman pontiffs, at this period, were using their utmost 
endeavours to levy the tenths of benefices over all Europe, ta 
defray the expenses of the Holy War. In 1254 Pope Innocent 
IV. granted to Henry III. of England a twentieth of the 
ecclesiastical revenues of Scotland for three years, provided he 
should join the Crusade which was then in agitation, and the 
grant was subsequently extended for another year. Henry III. 
wisely stayed at home, and the Scottish clergy escaped that 
ancient income-tax of five per cent. But in 1268, Clement IV. 
renewed the grant, increasing it to a tenth ; and the gallant 
son of Henry put a cross on his shield, and repaired to Pales- 
tine. Still Scotland declined to be taxed by an English poten- 
tate. Blessed with a greater abundance of soldiers than of 
gold, an offer was made to send a company of crusaders to 
uphold the national piety and honour \ and, accordingly, a 

meadow, were provided to the vicar of Worgs in Galloway. This grant 
was confirmed by Gilbert, Bishop of Galloway, who died in 1253. In 
1268 a pension of ten merks sterling was granted to the vicar of Kilrenny 
in Fife ; of ten merks to the vicar of Salton in the Lothians ; of ten pounds 
to the vicar of Childrer Kirk ; . . . . twelve merks were provided to the 

vicar of Gulan Hence we may presume to fix the actual medium 

at ten merks. The canons of the Church of Scotland, a.d. 1242 and 1269, 
fix the minimum at ten merks." (Annals, vol. i. ) The price of grain 
varied as much anciently as now ; but in the twelfth and thirteenth cen- 
turies, a merk appears to be nearly the average price of a chalder. " In 
1263 a chalder of oatmeal, fourteen bolls being computed for the chalder, 
cost exactly one pound. In the same year, six chalders of wheat were 
bought for nine pounds three shillings. In 1264 twenty chalders of barley 
sold for ten pounds ; in 1288 the price had fallen so low, that we rind forty 
chalders sold for six pounds thirteen shillings and fourpence, being at the 
rate of forty pence the chalder. In 1288 twelve chalders of wheat brought 
twelve merks, or thirteen shillings and fourpence the chalder." (Tytler's 
History, vol. ii. ) 
1 Robertson's Concilia, Ixiii. 


band of knights and yeomen, under the command of the Earls 
of Carrick and Athol, were despatched on the fatal expedition, 
few of whom ever returned. Athol died before Tunis, fighting 
bravely under the banners of the chivalrous but unfortunate St 
Lewis ; and Carrick found a grave in Palestine. His widow 
married again, and became the mother of the heroic Bruce. 

In the year 1275 Benemundus de Vicci, better known under 
the corrupted name of Bagimont, came to Scotland, to collect, 
on behalf of the Pope, the tenth of all ecclesiastical benefices 
for the recovery of the Holy Land — the grant to Henry having 
expired. It would appear, that long prior to this time there 
existed a valuation-roll of all our Church revenues, according to 
which the beneficed clergy were taxed, when procurations must 
be paid to legates, when suits must be appealed to Rome, when 
a proportion of the national burdens must be borne. The 
clergy wished the ancient valuation adhered to ; but Bagimont 
had instructions to raise the tenths according to the true values 
of the benefices. As usual, there was an appeal, and Bagi- 
mont returned to Rome for fresh instructions ; but the Pope 
was inexorable, and insisted that every benefice should be 
taxed according to its actual value at the time. Accordingly, 
a new valuation and assessment roll required to be formed, 
and this document was long known and hated in our country 
as Bagimont's Roll, till in process of time the actual valuation 
rose far above it, and then it was as much prized as it had been 
previously disliked. It was used at Rome as the rule of pay- 
ment for those who came to seek benefices there. It still 
exists, but so mutilated, interpolated, and altered, as to give no 
information upon the real value of land or Church-livings prior 
to the reign of James V. 

By far the most important political events in the reign of 
Alexander III. were the invasion of the Norwegians, their 
defeat at Largs, and the subsequent cession of the Hebrides 
to the crown of Scotland upon the payment of 4000 merks. 
But this acquisition of islands, long disputed, had for the time 
little influence upon ecclesiastical affairs ; for though the 
patronage of the Bishopric of Sodor was ceded to Alexander, 
the ecclesiastical jurisdiction was reserved to the Archbishop 
of Drontheim in Norway ; and so Iona still continued under 
the spiritual supremacy of the north. 1 

It was during the reign of the two Alexanders that the 

1 Tytler's Hist., vol. i., note. 

a.d. 1200-1300.] MICHAEL SCOT. 117 

different orders of mendicant friars first began to appear in 
Scotland. They were now at the very height of their popu- 
larity ; and our monarchs, who gave them welcome, probably 
thought they would be more cheaply lodged and entertained 
than the expensive orders of Cistercian and Cluniac monks 
patronized by their predecessors. The chief agent in bringing 
them to this country was William de Malvoisin, Bishop of St 
x\ndrews, who was one of the most active and enterprising 
prelates of the time ; and yet it appears he must have loved 
good cheer, for from 1202 to 1233 he deprived the Abbey of 
Dunfermline of the presentation to two churches, because its 
monks had neglected to supply him with wine enough for his 
collation after supper. 1 

We have now arrived at a period when Scottish ecclesiastics 
begin to make a prominent figure in the current literature of 
Europe. Dempster has written the biographies of more than 
twelve hundred eminent Scotch writers who lived from the 
fourth century downwards. It may be safely said that hun- 
dreds of these never existed, that hundreds more owed their 
birth to other countries than ours, and that of the remnant, 
the fame and the works of the majority have utterly perished. 
Our catalogue of authors, by this process of unbelief and for- 
getfulness, will be greatly reduced ; but it will contain men, 
and not phantoms. We might well be proud to rank among 
our illustrious writers such men as Columbanus, Alcuin, and 
Rabanus Maurus ; but other countries deny us the honour. 
Even Joannes Scotus Erigena, the friend and companion of 
Charles the Bald, and one of the most learned men of the 
ninth century, must be consigned to the limbo of uncertainty ; 
for though it is certain he was a Scot, it is doubtful whether 
he was a Scot of Ireland, of Ayr, or of Strathearn. 2 

Michael Scot of Balwirie is still remembered in the tradi- 
tions of the country, and is now embalmed in the Lay of the 
Last Minstrel. By visiting the great universities of England, 
France, Spain, and Italy, he made himself master of the 
dialectics and natural philosophy of the age. He was made 
a Doctor of Theology, and acquired for himself the name of 
Michael the Mathematician. He wrote commentaries on 
Aristotle, and a book concerning the physiognomy and procrea- 
tion of men \ but a large part of his time was devoted to 
alchemy and astrology. He was astrologer for a while to the 
Emperor Frederic II. When war drove him from his court, 
1 JIailes's Annals, vol. i. a Mackenzie's Lives, vol. i. 


he found a welcome from the first Edward of England ; and 
his old age appears to have been spent in his native land. It 
has been his fate to be remembered as a sorcerer rather than 
as a man of science. Dante, in his " Divine Comedy," makes 
mention of him as a magician. Dempster tells us that he had 
heard in his youth that the magic books of Michael Scot were 
still somewhere in existence, but might not be opened on 
account of the fiends that would thereby be let loose. Sir 
Walter Scott, the great Modern Wizard of the North, has 
adhered to the tradition of the country, that his books were 
interred in his grave. Yet let us not despise or condemn the 
Baron of Balwirie, though an ignorant age regarded him as a 
sorcerer, and undying poetry preserves the tradition. It was 
the doom of science in those dark days to be looked upon as 
necromancy ; and the power over nature, which a slight 
acquaintance with its laws conferred, gave rise to the suspicion 
of dealings with the devil. Michael Scot flourished in the 
thirteenth century, and appears to have been one of the com- 
missioners sent to bring the Maid of Norway to Scotland upon 
the death of Alexander III. 1 

John Holybush, known in the world of letters by the more 
sounding appellative of Joannes Sacrobosco, is said to owe his 
birth to Nithsdale. While still a young man he became a 
canon-regular of the order of St Augustine, and afterwards was 
made Professor of Mathematics in the University of Paris. 
He is acknowledged to have been the most learned mathema- 
tician of his day, and to have done much to revive in Europe 
a love for mathematical studies. His treatise on the Sphere 
was judged by Peter Ramus, Clavius, and Melancthon to be 
worthy of their study and illustrative comments. He was 
buried in the Church of the Mathurines at Paris, with his 
epitaph written round about a sphere, in allusion to his 
greatest work. 2 Richard, Abbot of St Victore, who flourished 
toward the end of the twelfth century, also owed his origin to 
Scotland. He devoted himself chiefly to exegetical and doc- 
trinal studies, and has left behind him thirty-seven different 
treatises on theological subjects, which are still to be found in 
the libraries of the learned in two large folio volumes. Adam 
Scot, a canon-regular of the order of Premontre, was another 
of our northern lights in that remote age. With the wandering 

1 Note to the Lay of the Last Minstrel. Mackenzie's Lives, &c., &c. 

2 Mackenzie, Dempster, &c. 

a.d. 1200-1300.] JOHN DUNS SCOTUS. 119 

spirit which has always been characteristic of his countrymen, 
he went to France, where he rose to a distinction which he 
would have sought for in vain at home. He wrote a treatise 
on the Tabernacle of Moses, and another on the Immaculate 
Conception of the Blessed Virgin ; and excelled in the allego- 
rical and mystical interpretation of Scripture, which was greatly 
applauded then, but would be accounted as worse than mean- 
ingless now. 1 

Thomas Learmont, generally known as Thomas the Rhymer, 
has obtained a more imperishable place in Scottish history than 
many who have a higher claim to it. He lived in the thirteenth 
century, and Ercildoun, a village not far from the Tweed, is 
famed as his birthplace and residence. He sustained the 
double character of a poet and prophet — characters once 
inseparable, but now disjoined through the decay of the spirit 
of prophecy ; so that for nearly two thousand years our poets 
have been but poets, with no inspiration but that of genius. 
He is the author of " Sir Tristem," and is said to have fore- 
told the death of Alexander III., the triumph of the Bruce, 
and the accession of the Stuarts to the throne ; and there are 
still extant some obscure verses, in which the two last of these 
events are dimly foreshadowed ; but doubts have been started 
in regard to their authorship. Some have affirmed that he 
derived his knowledge of the future from an inspired nun in 
the convent at Haddington ; but the popular belief was, that 
he derived it from a secret intercourse with fairyland, whither 
he had been carried when a child. We shall probably stumble 
at both these hypotheses, and reject altogether his pretensions 
as a prophet ; and his rhymes which remain do not give us 
very exalted ideas of his powers as a poet. 

But by far the most celebrated Scotchman of the thirteenth 
century was the celebrated schoolman, John Duns Scotus. 
Born at Duns, in the Merse, 2 he entered at an early age the 
order of Franciscan Friars. To complete his studies he re- 
paired to Oxford, where he rapidly rose to be professor of 
theology, and such was the fame of his genius and learning, 
that thirty thousand students are said to have resorted to his 
lectures ; but we are not informed how the huge concourse 

1 Mackenzie, Dempster, &c. 

2 Some antiquaries have affirmed that this great schoolman was born at 
Dunstan in Northumberland ; but there is a great preponderance of evi- 
dence in favour of Scotland. He is said to have been born in 1274, and 
to have died in 1308. 


was accommodated. From Oxford he went to Paris, as a wider 
field for his talents. The scholastic philosophy was now in 
the ascendant ; Aristotle was worshipped as a God, and every 
theological subject was reduced into a dialectic form, and dis- 
cussed according to the rules of the dialectic art. Duns 
Scotus was deeply infected with the prevailing . epidemic, and 
among his other works we find Commentaries on the Eight 
Books of Aristotle, and on the Four Books of Sentences. He 
ventured, however, in many particulars to differ from Aquinas, 
who, next to Aristotle, was the great authority of the day. 
The Dominicans flew to the succour of the one, the Francis- 
cans stood fast by the side of the other. The famous sects of 
the Thomists and Scotists arose, whose controversies regarding 
Grace and Free Will are undecided to this day. The genius 
of Aquinas had earned for him the title of the Angelic Doctor; 
the acuteness of Scotus got for him the title of the Subtle 
Doctor; it was the fashion of the time to bestow such appella- 
tives. But perhaps the greatest achievement of our countryman 
was connected with the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, 
a dogma which he is reputed to have proved to the satisfac- 
tion of the University of Paris by no fewer than two hundred 
arguments. Though his labours were abundant, his years 
were not many, for he is understood to have died at Cologne 
at the early age of thirty-four. Over his tomb, in the Church 
of the Minorites, it is said that there was once an epitaph, 
purporting that Scotland gave him birth, England nurture, 
France education, Germany a grave. 1 

We have been diverted from following the course of events 
by this brief review of the writers produced by our country in 
the thirteenth century, and who walk first in that long proces- 
sion of poets, philosophers, and divines, which slowly defiles 
before the eye of the historian as he scans the centuries which 
succeed. We now return to our narrative. 

Alexander III. was killed by a fall from his horse near 
Kinghorn on the 16th of March 1285-6. His death plunged 
the whole nation into mourning. " The nobility, clergy, and, 
above all, the gentry and commons," says Balfour, " bedewed 
his coffin for seventeen days' space with rivulets of tears." He 
was a good king, and deserved to be lamented. " In his 
time," to quote the affectionate tribute of Fordun, " the Church 
flourished ; its ministers were treated with reverence \ vice 

1 Scotia me genuit, Anglia suscepit, 
Gallia edocuit, Germania tenet. 


was openly discouraged \ cunning and treachery were trampled 
under foot ; injury ceased; and the reign of virtue, truth, and 
justice was maintained throughout the land." But, indeed, 
there was greater reason to grieve for the living than for the 
dead, because of the phials of wrath, confusion, and civil war 
which were now about to be poured out upon the country. 
Alexander had seen all his children die before him ; and now 
the heir of his crown was an infant grandchild, daughter of 
Eric, King of Norway. Several of the powerful barons began 
already to aspire to the throne \ and, in truth, in those turbu- 
lent times, a sickly child was scarcely its proper occupant. 
Edward of England had already reduced Wales, and had long 
been ambitious to annex Scotland to his crown ; and he 
thought that now the pear w r as ripe. He proposed a marriage 
between the Maid of Norway and his son, which was agreed 
to ; but the fragile girl died at Orkney on her voyage to Scot- 
land, and so this scheme of ambition was blasted. 

No fewer than twelve competitors for the throne now ap- 
peared ; and, unhappily, Edward w r as chosen to adjudicate 
between them. Before proceeding to investigate their claims 
and give his award, the English monarch demanded that he 
should be recognised as Lord Paramount ; and the demand, 
haughtily made, was meanly conceded by suitors anxious to 
secure the favour of their judge. Robert de Bruce and John 
de Baliol had undoubtedly the strongest claims \ and Edward, 
discovering that the latter was likely to be the more compliant 
vassal, gave judgment in his favour. But even Baliol could 
not brook the indignities which were heaped upon him. He 
fired, and prepared to resist ; but resentment was useless and 
resistance in vain in the divided state of the kingdom, and the 
feeble monarch was tumbled from his throne. At this crisis 
in the country's fate, William Wallace arose, and for a time 
almost single-handed stemmed the tide of oppression. He 
defeated the English at Stirling Bridge, and carried his vic- 
torious arms into the north of England ; but the disaster at 
Falkirk, and the jealousy of the great barons, compelled him 
to resign his office of Governor of Scotland. Still he did not 
sheath his renowned two-handed sword ; and Edward felt that 
so long as Wallace lived Scotland was not subdued. 

The English monarch was not allowed to urge his preten- 
sions to the feudal superiority of Scotland without a rival. 
Boniface VIIL, in the year 1300, published a bull, in which 
he declared that Scotland was a fief of the Holy See, — and 


commanded Edward to remove his officers and armies from 
the patrimony of the Church. One of the arguments by which 
His Holiness supported his pretensions was, that the spiritual 
conquest of the country had been achieved by the bones of 
St Andrew, the brother of St Peter. 1 One is tempted to think 
that the pretensions of the Pope were merely meant as a 
mockery of those of the King — a quiet sarcasm upon the 
weak arguments by which he supported his too powerful arms ; 
but both were really in earnest. It is not improbable, how- 
ever, that Scottish influence, perhaps Scottish gold, had 
procured the interference of the Supreme Pontiff ; and it may 
even have been suggested that our bleeding country would be 
safest from the English lion if taken under the ample folds of 
the papal mantle. Edward received the bull with oaths and 
rage ; but, collecting himself, he gave a courteous reply to the 
Archbishop of Canterbury who delivered it, and finally got his 
parliament to send an elaborate answer to the Pope in defence 
of his pretended rights. It is probable the document was 
accompanied with larger bribes than Scotland could afford ; 
for His Holiness now suddenly turned round, and in a papal 
bull censured the patriotism of the Scottish bishops, who were 
anxious to maintain the independence of their country. 2 

Reconciled to Rome, and backed by this bull, Edward 
again marched into Scotland. " In recording the history of 
this last miserable campaign," says Tytler, with more than his 
usual eloquence, " the historian has to tell a tale of sullen 
submission and pitiless ravage ; he has little to do but to follow 
in dejection the chariot-wheels of the conqueror, and to hear 
them crushing under their iron weight all that was free and 
brave in a devoted country/' 3 But the cause of that country 
was not yet utterly lost ; and its deliverer was already riding 
in hot haste from the court of Edward for the Scottish 

Robert Bruce, the grandson of Baliol's rival for the throne, 
had hitherto preserved his large estates by maintaining his 
allegiance to the English throne ; but finding himself sus- 
pected, and no longer safe, he now fled to Scotland, sum- 
moned together his dependents and friends, had himself 
solemnly crowned at Scone, and, after some of the most ro- 
mantic adventures, and hair-breadth escapes, and chivalrous 
feats at arms recorded in history, he achieved, on the field 
of Bannockburn, the independence of his country. 

1 Hailes's Annals, vol. ii. Tytler's History, vol. i. 

2 Hailes's Annals, vol. ii. 3 Tytler's History, vol ii. 


Religion, though she naturally seeks for quieter scenes than 
the camp and the battle-field, did not altogether stand aloof 
in this great struggle for liberty. Among the first friends of 
the Bruce were Lamberton, Bishop of St Andrews ; Wishart, 
Bishop of Glasgow ; David, Bishop of Moray ; and the Abbot 
of Scone. Bruce had become guilty of the most daring impiety 
by slaying Comyn in the Church of the Minorites at Dumfries ; 
but Wishart absolved him in his cathedral at Glasgow. A 
papal excommunication was thundered against him, which 
might have utterly ruined him in that superstitious age, but the 
friendship and influence of Lamberton deprived it of more than 
half its power. Both these prelates paid for their patriotism by 
a long imprisonment, and it was only their surplice that saved 
them from a halter. The Bishop of Moray, undeterred, boldly 
preached in his diocese, that it was more meritorious to fight 
under the banners of Bruce than to join in a crusade against 
the Saracens. Led by such influence, the Scottish clergy met 
in a provincial council, and issued a declaration addressed to 
all the faithful, and bearing that the nation, seeing the king- 
dom betrayed and enslaved, had assumed Robert Bruce for its 
king, and that the clergy had cheerfully done him homage as 
such. 1 On the field of Bannockburn, before the battle, the 
Abbot of Inchaffray passed along the serried ranks of the Scots, 
bearing the bones of St Fillan, granting absolution, and fortify- 
ing courage by the powers of superstition. In gratitude to St 
Andrew, to whose assistance the victory was devoutly ascribed. 
the king gave to the canons of his cathedral a yearly sum of a 
hundred merks ; Lamberton added the churches of Abercrom- 
bie and Dairsie ; and Duncan, Earl of Fife, the church of 
Kilgour. 2 

While the Church thus exhibited its patriot- 
a.d. ni7. . ....... , l 

ism, and the king his piety, the supremacy 

which a dominant priest had obtained among the nations was 

employed to prevent the Scottish armies from reaping the full 

fruits of victory. After the battle of Bannockburn, Bruce was 

bent upon following up his success by marching into England ; 

and Edward was in no position to resist. It was resolved that 

the invaders should be combated with spiritual weapons. 

England was rich, and the Pope was compliant ; and a bull 

was issued from Avignon, commanding a truce of two years 

between the hostile countries, under pain of the highest 

1 Hailes's Annals, vol. ii. 2 Balfour's Annals, vol. i. 


spiritual censures. Two cardinal legates were despatched to 
publish the truce, and in case of resistance to excommunicate 
the king. The cardinals prudently paused in England, and 
sent forward two nuncios to intimate the message ; but the un- 
fortunate deputies, while crossing the borders, were attacked 
by banditti, and being eased of some superfluous vestments and 
money, were allowed to pursue their way. Bruce courteously 
received them at court, professed his earnest desire to be at 
peace with his spiritual mother, but firmly refused to open the 
sealed letters which they brought, as they were not addressed 
to him under the title of king. " There are several nobles in 
my dominions," said he, " called Robert de Bruce ; it may be 
they are intended for some one of them." 1 

Baffled of their object by the firmness of the king, the nun- 
cios returned in all haste to the cardinals, who awaited the 
result of the enterprise at Durham. A check had been given 
to papal presumption ; but it was never the wont of church- 
men thus easily to quit the field. It was resolved that the 
truce should be published ; and Adam Newton, a Franciscan 
friar, was employed upon the perilous mission. Setting out 
from Berwick, he found the king encamped in a wood near to 
Old Cambus, busily employed in constructing engines to batter 
the walls of the town he had just left. He sought, but was re- 
fused admittance to the royal presence ; and when it was found 
that his credentials were not addressed to Robert as king, they 
were contemptuously returned to him unopened. The friar, 
nevertheless, with the devoted courage which has in general 
been characteristic of his order, proclaimed, in presence of a 
concourse of the barons, that it was the pontifical will there 
should be a truce between the kingdoms ; but the words were 
no sooner spoken than there were mutterings and looks which 
could not be mistaken ; and the monk, feeling his courage to 
ooze out, begged that he might now be allowed to proceed to 
visit the prelates, to whom his instructions were addressed ; or, 
if not, that he might have a safe conduct to return to Berwick. 
Both requests were refused, and a hint conveyed that he had 
better leave the kingdom as quickly and as best he could. He 
took the hint and hastened south, but he was waylaid upon 
the road, robbed of his parchments, among which were the 
bulls excommunicating the king ; and being further stripped 
of the little clothing which a Franciscan has, was left stark 

1 Rymer, Foedera, vol. iii. pp. 661-2. 

A.D. 1320.] BULL AND MANIFESTO. 1 25 

naked, and almost stark mad, to continue his journey. 
Arriving at Berwick, the unhappy monk addressed a letter to 
the legates bemoaning his misfortunes, and stating that it was 
rumoured that the Lord Robert had planned the robbery and 
was in possession of the parchments ; and, without greatly 
wronging the memory of the pious monarch, we may feel dis- 
posed to believe in the report. 1 

After obtaining possession of Berwick, and re- 
3 pulsing an attempt to recapture it by the English 
king in person, and sweeping, more than once, the northern 
counties with his light-armed cavalry, Bruce consented to a 
cessation of hostilities. He was anxious not merely for the 
blessings of peace, but to be reconciled to the Holy See ; but 
the Supreme Pontiff was in no humour to be reconciled to 
him, and had forgotten altogether his office as a peacemaker. 
A rabid and most rancorous bull was issued against the king 
and his accomplices ; and the Archbishop of York, with the 
Bishops of London and Carlisle, were commanded, with all the 
usual solemnities of book, bell, and candle, to excommunicate 
the guilty crew every Sunday and festival-day throughout the 
year. This could not be borne in silence ; and, accordingly, 
a meeting of the Estates was held at Aberbrothock, and an 
elaborate manifesto prepared and addressed to the Pope ; set- 
ting forth the ancient independence of the nation, and the 
right of Robert the Bruce to reign as its king. It ran in the 
name of eight earls and thirty-one barons especially men- 
tioned, and of "the other barons, freeholders, and whole com- 
munity of Scotland." 2 The publication of this spirited 
manifesto led the Pontiff to sist the repeated publication of 
the bulls of excommunication • but it was not till three years 
afterwards, during which the northern counties of England 
were again cruelly wasted, that a complete reconciliation with 
Rome was effected by Randolph proceeding to Rome and 
persuading the Pope to address a bull to the Bruce, with the 
title of king. Edward complained of the bad faith of His 
Holiness for consenting to do so, but was soon afterwards him- 
self glad to make peace with the Scottish monarch upon terms 
still more hurtful to his pride. 

In all these transactions the patriotism and loyalty of the 

1 Rymer, Fcedera, vol. iii. pp. 683-4. 

2 A duplicate of this memorable document is preserved in the General 
Register House at Edinburgh. A facsimile is given in the first vohime 
of the Scots Acts. 


native clergy were sufficiently obvious, and it was only the 
foreign element — the unfortunately-recognised supremacy of 
the Bishop of Rome — that threatened to breed disturbance 
between the Church and the State. The papal court, ever 
venal, was at the service of England, and, of course, it had 
its emissaries and devotees ; but the clergy, as a body, clung 
to the interests of the royal Bruce, and were ready to forget 
their vows to advance his cause. In truth, though the faith 
and worship of the Scottish Church were as corrupted as those 
of any Church in Christendom, its priesthood was never blindly 
submissive to the Vatican. The country was distant from the 
centre of pontifical influence, and much of that influence was 
lost as it radiated towards the circumference. It formed one 
of the outer provinces of the vast spiritual hierarchy, where the 
law in its rigour was not felt. Scotland was more than once 
put under an interdict, and its monarchs were frequently under 
the ban of the Holy See ; but the king and the country alike 
seemed to have been unscathed by the lightning's flash, for we 
read of no rebellions, no assassinations, no outrages of any 
kind ; and though history has recorded the facts, she has made 
no mention of their effects, from which we may infer that they 
were but slight and transient. 

Our great king, notwithstanding his stout resistance to 
Rome, was a religious man according to the religion of the 
time ; and there is a circumstance in his life, or rather con- 
nected with his death, which very well illustrates the religious 
feelings of the period. The blood of the Red Corny n, slain 
before the altar at Dumfries, had left a stain upon his con- 
science, and to wipe it out, he had solemnly vowed that 
when the country was free, he would take the cross and go 
to Palestine. He had never been able to perform his vow, 
and when he was upon his death-bed, being troubled thereat, 
he called Sir James Douglas to his side, and exacted from 
him a solemn promise, that when he was dead he would take 
out his heart and carry it to the Holy Sepulchre, " where the 
Lord lay." 1 The promise being made on the true faith of a 
knight, the monarch died in peace. The good Sir James was 
true to his word, and with a chosen band of knights set out for 
Palestine ; but his unconquerable love for adventure led him ' 

1 Bruce had previously arranged that he should be buried at Melrose, to 
which abbey he bequeathed large sums ; and it appears that it was not 
till he lay a poor leper at Cardross, and nigh to death, that he formed 
the resolution of sending his heart to Jerusalem. 

a.d. 1300-1400. j JOHN DE FORDUN. 1 27 

to Spain, that he might assist in battle against the Moors, and 
being surrounded in the too eager pursuit of the flying foe, he 
made his last charge by throwing the casket containing the 
embalmed heart of his beloved sovereign before him, and cry- 
ing out, " On, thou noble heart, and where the Bruce leads, the 
Douglas will follow ! " The incident is one of the finest 
in the records of chivalry, but it is evidently embellished 
by romance. 

Robert I. was succeeded by his son David II., a child of 
eight years old at the time of his father's death. In the re- 
joicings attending his birth, the court poets foretold that he 
would rival his father's fame ; but virtue and valour are not 
always hereditary, and we read with extreme pain, on the 
prosaic but truthful page of history, of his mean and truckling 
spirit, and of how he would have sold to England for money 
the country which his father had redeemed with blood. Robert 
II., the first of the Stuarts who sat upon our throne, succeeded 
to his uncle David ; and he in his turn was succeeded by his 
son Robert III. These reigns fill up the fourteenth century. 
They contain political events of the greatest importance, but 
no ecclesiastical occurrences deserving of record. The Church 
had now fully asserted its independence of England. The 
ecclesiastical battle was fought and won earlier than the poli- 
tical one. It was now completely conformed to Rome, and 
reconciled to Rome ; and its bishops and priests quietly per- 
formed their sacred offices in those noble edifices which piety 
had reared for them. It is, unfortunately, only times of trouble 
that find a place in history ; the calm scenes and useful labours 
of periods of repose soon sink into oblivion. 

The seeds of our glorious modern literature were already 
beginning to germinate under the sunny influences of the 
Italian sky. In our colder latitudes the development was later 
and slower ; but even in the fourteenth century there were 
evidences of a quickening power at work. We have authors 
in that age — all of them ecclesiastics — of whom we need not 
be ashamed. 

John de Fordun is the earliest Scottish historian. He was 
born, toward the latter end of the reign of Alexander III., at 
Fordun in Kincardineshire. After he had finished his studies 
in grammar and philosophy, he applied himself to theology, 
and entered into holy orders. He formed the design of 
writing the history of his country from the most remote anti- 
quity down to his own time, but he did not live to complete 


the work. He finished only five books, but he has had several 
continuators. He was not free from the love for fable, uni- 
versal in his age, and he traces our nation through Greece and 
Egypt up to Nimrod the mighty hunter. But when he leaves 
behind him the region of clouds, and sets his foot upon the 
solid land, he is in general worthy of credit ; and every sub- 
sequent historian has been largely indebted to him. He is, 
at least, the highest authority we have, and far more trust- 
worthy than the imaginative Boece ; but none of our early 
chronicles can be implicitly followed as a guide. His " Scoti- 
Chronicon " was anciently so hightly esteemed, that almost 
every monastic library could boast a copy of it \ and the famous 
Register of the Carthusians at Perth, and the Black Books of 
Scone and Paisley, were little else than transcripts and con- 
tinuations of it. 

Achilles had Homer to celebrate his praise in immortal 
verse ; Bruce, a mightier hero, had a meaner bard, but still 
one of those favoured few who are born with a harp in their 
bosom. John Barbour is said to have been born in Aber- 
deen about the year 1316. After receiving the rudiments 
of his education at home, he pursued his philosophical and 
theological studies in the universities of Oxford and Paris. 
Returning to his native country, he entered into priest's 
orders, and was preferred by King David to the Arch- 
deaconry of his native city. His heroic poem on Robert 
Bruce consists of a hundred and one books, in which he 
minutely traces his history, from his flight to Scotland down 
to the adventure of his heart on the mountains of Andalusia. 
It is a remarkable production for so early a period, giving us 
life-like pictures of the great characters who wrought out the 
deliverance of the country, and of the stirring scenes amid 
which they lived ; and though not to be ranked with the 
great productions of poetic genius, it must ever be interest- 
ing to Scotsmen as one of the earliest specimens of their 
native tongue, and the most faithful history of their favourite 

John Bassol, a Minorite friar, who wrote a large folio on 
the " Books of the Sentences," which acquired for him the 
title of " the most orderly doctor ;" John Blair, a Benedictine 
monk, who is said to have been a schoolfellow of Sir William 
Wallace, and who afterwards wrote his deeds ; William 
Dempster, Professor of Philosophy at Paris ; and Thomas 
Varoye, Provost of Bothwell, who wrote a poem in celebration 

ad. 1400.] GROWTH OF THE PAPACY. I 29 

of the battle of Otterburne, nearly complete the catalogue of 
illustrious Scotsmen in the fourteenth century. Even these, 
how few have seen their writings — how few have heard their 
names ! But the revival of letters had already begun. 
Petrarch and Boccaccio had made the world vocal with 
poetry not unworthy of their Latin ancestry j the invention of 
printing was at hand ; and greater men arose to play their 
parts upon a greater stage. 


" Rome was not built in a day." This is equally true of 
papal as of pagan Rome. We shall sin against all history if 
we conceive that the stupendous system of faith and worship 
now embodied in the decrees and canons of the Council of 
Trent was fully developed and perfect from the first. It was 
the growth of fifteen hundred years. The members of the 
hierarchy rose by slow decrees to their opulence and power ; 
the rites and ceremonies which overlaid the spiritual services 
of the sanctuary were gradually introduced \ and almost every 
important dogma was the subject of free discussion for cen- 
turies before it was put into the creed, and made a necessary 
article of belief. Pictures and statues were very early brought 
into the Christian churches, but it was not till the year 879 
that the Council of Constantinople decreed the worship of 
images, and silenced the iconoclasts ; and more than another 
century was required to make the doctrine universal in the 
west. From the patristic age the virtues of celibacy were 
greatly lauded, and multitudes of the clergy and laity, of men 
and of women, sacrificed the first instincts of their nature to 
the prevalent ideas of Christian perfection ; but it was not till 
the eleventh century that Gregory VII. made celibacy com- 
pulsory upon every member of the sacerdotal caste. In the 
writings of several of the first apologists for Christianity there 
is language which seems to imply a belief in the real presence 
in the sacrament of the Supper : but not till the thirteenth 
century, when Innocent III. sat in the papal chair, was the 
term transubstantiation known, or the doctrine authoritatively 
defined. It was the same pontiff who first rendered auricular 
confession imperative, thus giving to the Church two dogmas, 


the former of which is the greatest possible affront to the 
human understanding, and the latter the greatest possible 
shock to private modesty and to public morals. His succes- 
sor, Honorius III., decreed the adoration of the Host, and 
thus rendered complete the idea of Christ's presence in the 
Eucharist. Thus has this great Church system grown, and 
thus is it now growing ; for it is a mistake to suppose that 
the creed of Rome is a sealed book, from which nothing must 
be taken away, and to which nothing may be added. In our 
own day, after five hundred years of vehement debate, the 
doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Infallibilty 
of the Pope have been placed upon the same level as the 
doctrines of the Existence and Unity of God. 

It has frequently been remarked of the British constitution 
that its great strength and durability result from its being the 
slow growth of many centuries. In France we have seen con- 
stitutions born in a day and die in a day. In England the 
overshadowing constitution under which we live and are safe 
has been the work of nearly a thousand years — the product 
of a cautious legislation, meeting emergencies and correcting 
abuses just as they arose. Unlike the gourd matured by a 
single sun and blasted in a single night, it is more like the 
oak of our forests, which requires an unknown number of cen- 
turies to arrive at its fullest development ; but which, when it 
has taken hold of the soil, no tempest can overturn. It is to 
the same circumstance we must attribute the amazing stability 
of the papal system and the papal power. The oldest empires 
are young in comparison with the spiritual empire of Rome. 
The most ancient dynasties are of yesterday contrasted with 
the long line of pontiffs who have sat in the chair of St Peter. 
Nor are there yet the slightest symptoms of this dominion 
coming to an end ; for though old provinces have revolted 
and declared themselves free, new provinces have been gained 
which more than compensate for the loss ; just as Great 
Britain has more than made up for the loss of the American 
States, by her vast and recently-acquired possessions in Aus- 
tralia and India. 

The Church grew in Scotland as it grew at Rome, as the 
branch grows with the growth of the stem. Rite after rite was 
introduced ; doctrine after doctrine was readily embraced ; 
for with the expansion of the creed there was always exhi- 
bited a corresponding expansion of the faculty of faith ; 
swarm after swarm of idle friars came from the south, dark- 

a.d. 1414.] COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE. 131 

ening the sky and settling down upon the land ; stone after 
stone was added to the structure, and as it rose toward heaven, 
it appeared so broad and high, and firmly compacted, that 
nothing could shake it. But already the cloud, no larger than 
a man's hand, appeared in the sky, which betokened the 
coming tempest. 

The fifteenth century opened upon one of the worst 
schisms that had ever rent the Latin Church. Boniface IX. 
at Rome, and Benedict XIII. at Avignon, both laid claim to 
the popedom, and exercised its functions. The death of the 
former did not end the division, for his faction raised to the 
pontificate Innocent VII. ; and he, after a reign of two years, 
was succeeded by Gregory XII. A plan of reconciliation 
was now formed between the contending pontiffs, who reci- 
procally bound themselves by a solemn oath to resign the 
papal dignity, if necessary for the peace and welfare of the 
Church ; but their oaths were violated, and the schism con- 
tinued. In 1409 a Council was assembled at Pisa, which 
declared both the Popes to be guilty of heresy, perjury, and 
contumacy, and to be therefore ipso facto deposed and excom- 
municated. The Council next raised to the pontifical chair 
Peter of Candia, who assumed the name of Alexander V. 
There were now in the Church three factions and three Popes, 
who mutually cursed and excommunicated each other. Alex- 
ander V. dying at Bologna, sixteen cardinals, who belonged 
to his party, chose as his successor a Neapolitan, of a most 
unprincipled and profligate character, who took the name of 
John XXIII. The pious beheld all this with wonder and dis- 
gust, and knew not whom to recognise as their spiritual father 
and supreme head. 

In 1414 the famous Council of Constance met to heal the 
divisions which distracted the Church. The Council began 
its labours by declaring, that an oecumenical council was supe- 
rior to the Pope. This rule being established, John XXIII. 
was unanimously deposed on account of many grave crimes 
which were laid to his charge. As the Council was evidently 
in earnest, Gregory XII. anticipated his fate by making a 
voluntary resignation of the pontifical throne. But Benedict 
XIII. was not a man to yield, and so he also was deposed ; 
and the field being thus cleared, Otta de Colonna was raised 
to the dignity of head of the Church, which he ruled under 
the title of Martin V. Still Benedict refused to acknowledge 
the proceedings of the Council, and continued till the day of 


his death to claim the prerogatives and discharge the duties of 
the pontificate. 

This unseemly spectacle of so many rival popes contending 
for the chair of the apostolic fisherman, with all the ambition, 
avarice, want of faith, and other crimes which the contest laid 
bare, scandalized many, and led them to doubt the infallibility 
of such men, and the purity of the Church over which they 
presided. But even before this period, Wickliff — so beauti- 
fully called the Morning Star of the Reformation — had arisen, 
and by his bold preaching, and, above all, by his translation 
of the Bible into English, exposed the corruptions of Rome. 
Notwithstanding the bitter enmity of the friars, whose profli- 
gacy he had frequently denounced, he died in peace at his 
rectory of Lutterworth in the year 1384. But a convocation 
of the Anglican clergy at Oxford, in 1410, condemned his 
doctrines, and burnt his books. The Council of Constance, 
after deposing so many popes, proceeded to deal w r ith here- 
tics. Huss and Jerome of Prague were consigned to the 
fire. Wicliff was happily beyond their power ; but a list of 
propositions, culled from his writings, was examined and 
condemned, and a brutal decree passed, commanding his 
works, and his bones — now mouldering in the grave — to be 
committed to the flames. It was thirteen years before the 
decree was obeyed; but then his body was exhumed and 
burnt. " His ashes," says old Fuller, " were thrown into the 
Swift, and the Swift conveyed them to the Avon, the Avon 
into the Severn, the Severn into the narrow seas, the narrow 
seas into the main ocean ; and, like his ashes, so were his 
doctrines dispersed over the wide world." 

It is certain Wickliff had many followers. It was said that 
if you met two men upon the road, one of them was sure to 
be a Wickliffite. 1 Within thirty years of his death, his opinions 
had reached all the way to Bohemia ; for Huss and Jerome 
had imbibed them, and it was for this chiefly they were con- 
demned to be burnt. But even before the Council of Con- 
stance had met, the doctrines of Wickliff had found their way 
into Scotland. John Resby, an English priest, and described 
by our early historians as being of the school of Wickliff, had 
come into our country ; and it was not long till he incurred 
the suspicion of heresy. He was accordingly seized, in the 
year 1407, and carried before a council of the clergy, over 
which presided Lawrence Lindores, a doctor in theology, and 
1 Knighton, T >e Eventibus. 


a member of the Inquisition. His impeachment consisted of 
forty different articles, but we are acquainted with only two of 
them. He was accused of denying that the Pope was the 
successor of St Peter ; or that a man of a wicked life could be 
the vicar of Christ. The trial resulted in his being condemned 
to the flames; and the cruel sentence was immediately carried 
into execution at Perth. 1 He was the first who went from 
Scotland to join the noble army of martyrs. 

Scotland, at this period, was under the regency of Robert, 
Duke of Albany. The third Robert was dead, and his son, 
James I., was a captive in England. The whole aim of Albany 
was to maintain his precarious power, which he managed to 
do by pampering the nobles and ecclesiastics and oppressing 
the people. Winton, in his " Chronicle," specially celebrates 
his hatred of the Lollards, and his zeal for the purity of the 
Church. 2 

Henry Wardlaw was Bishop of St Andrews. We would 
willingly exculpate him if we could from all participation in 
the horrid crime. He was a prelate of liberal sentiments, of 
unbounded hospitality, distinguished for his anxiety to reform 
the clergy and the laity, and to him belongs the undying 
honour of having given to Scotland its first University. But 
it is impossible to believe that the fires of religious persecution 
could be kindled without the approbation of so influential a 
bishop. After all, need we wonder that he gave his voice to 
burn a wandering Wickliffite, when perhaps there were not ten 
men then living who did not think it was highly meritorious to 
persecute heretics to the death. The same sin lies at the door 
of still greater and holier men. 

Wardlaw had got his bishopric from Benedict XIII. , at 
Avignon ; and he no sooner obtained possession of his See 
than he set his heart upon making it the seat of a University. 
Scottish munificence had already founded the Scotch College 
at Paris and Baliol College at Oxford ; but Scotland itself was 
yet without any school for the higher branches of study, and 
its clergy were obliged to go abroad to complete their educa- 
tion. So early as 1410 the first Professors of St Andrews had 
begun their labours. John Shevez, Official of St Andrews, 
William Steven, afterwards Bishop of Dunblane, and Sir John 
Lister, a canon of the Abbey, read lectures in divinity ; Law- 
rence Lindores expounded the common law \ and Richard 

1 Fordun's Scotichron., lib. xv. c. 20. 
- Winton'.^ Chronicle, vol. ii. p. 419. 


Cornwall, the civil law ; while John Gow, William Foulis, and 
William Crosier, delivered prelections on philosophy and 
logic. 1 They are worthy to be held in everlasting remem- 
brance, as the first Senatus Academicus of Scotland. The 
infant university was yet without endowments, and without a 
pontifical charter. The latter of these wants was speedily 
supplied. On the 3d February 141 3, Alexander Ogilvy, who 
had been despatched to Rome to obtain the Pope's bull of 
confirmation, arrived at St Andrews, bringing with him the 
coveted document, and was received with every demonstration 
of joy. On the following day, the bull was read in the refec- 
tory, in the presence of the bishop and a large concourse of 
ecclesiastics. A procession, in which four hundred of the 
clergy joined, moved up the long nave of the cathedral to the 
altar ; Te Deum was sung ; high mass was celebrated ; and 
the day was concluded with bonfires, the ringing of bells, and 
universal festivity. 2 It was fitting that thanks should be given 
to God, and that gladness should abound among the people, 
for science had how found a resting-place in the land. 

In the year 1424 James I. was released from his captivity 
in England, and solemnly crowned in the abbey church of 
Scone. According to the ancient usage of the country, 
Murdoch, Duke of Albany and Earl of Fife, placed the crown 
upon his head ; and Wardlaw, Bishop of St Andrews, anointed 
him with the holy oil. The country was in a state of perfect 
lawlessness ; the barons were no better than powerful bandits ; 
and to the poor for many long years had belonged only lamen- 
tation and woe ; but there was now seated upon the throne a 
man of a determined will, resolved to redress such grievous 
wrongs. " Let God but grant me life," said he, " and there 
shall not be a spot in my dominions where the key shall not 
keep the castle, and the bracken-bush the cow, though I 
myself should lead the life of a dog to accomplish it." 

The eyes of so wakeful a monarch were not shut to the 
abuses which had crept into the Church ; but he required the 
help of churchmen to curb the exorbitant power of the nobles; 
and therefore he touched their sore places with a very tender 
hand, while otherwise he showed his zeal for the established 
religion. Buchanan celebrates his anxiety to raise the educa- 
tional standard of the clergy, which was gradually sinking ; 
and states that he gave instructions to the governors of all 

1 Spottiswood's History, book ii. Boethius, lib. xvi. 
- Pinkerton's History, vol. i. Ty tier's History, vol. in- 

A.D. 1424.] SALE OF BENEFICES. 135 

schools, and of the university now happily founded, to make 
known to him any scholars who had distinguished themselves, 
that he might bestow upon them ecclesiastical preferments. 1 

The sale of Scotch benefices at Rome had long been felt as 
an intolerable evil. It not only impoverished the kingdom, 
but made the clergy look to a foreign potentate, instead of 
their own monarch, for promotion. Still further to extort 
money and render the higher ecclesiastics dependent upon the 
pontifical will, Pope Urban IV. had ordained that every bishop 
and abbot should repair to Rome for consecration ; and, 
accordingly, towards the close of the thirteenth century, we 
rind five of our bishops-elect dancing attendance at the Roman 
court for several years, while their bishoprics remained vacant 
at home. One of them died there, two received consecration, 
and one was refused, most probably because he could not 
afford bribes sufficiently large. The fifth, through his agent, 
obtained a mandate to be consecrated in Scotland. 2 This 
grasping at power and wealth on the part of the popes was 
felt over all Europe, and led to the memorable war of investi- 
tures. In Scotland the pretensions of the supreme pontiffs 
were not always, nor even generally, conceded. The bishops 
were generally elected by the cathedral chapters ; the abbots 
by the monks ; the parish priests by the native aristocracy, 
the bishops, or religious houses in which the patronage was 
vested. The popes were never denied the right of confirming 
the appointment, and the large fees consequent thereon. Still 
many of the best preferments were bestowed at Avignon or 
Rome, and it was the custom of aspiring clerks to resort thither 
in great numbers, to try what love or money could accomplish. 
Wardlaw was at Avignon with Benedict when the See of St 
Andrews became vacant, and managed to get the appointment. 
James I. resolved to put an end to this grievance ; and, accord- 
ingly, had an act passed, declaring that no clerk should pur- 
chase any pension out of any benefice, secular or religious, 
" under all pain that he may tine against his Majesty." 3 By 
another act it was declared, that if any clerk wished to go 
beyond seas he must first prove to his ordinary that there was 
good cause for his journey, and make oath that he would not 
be guilty of baratrie? a word which occurs in our ancient laws, 
and seems to be nearly synonimous with simony, or the pur- 
chasing of benefices by money. Certain acts, which had 

1 History, book x. 2 Spottiswood, book ii. 

: * James I., pari. i. c. xiv. 4 James I., pari. vii. c. cvii. 

i 3 6 


[chap, vi r. 


already been passed, anent carrying gold out of the realm, 
were also made applicable to churchmen proceeding to Rome 
with a suspicious amount of cash. 

But while James thus attempted to check the avarice of the 
popes, in his very first parliament he ratified all the ancient 
privileges of the Church, and commanded all men to honour 
it. 1 He brought himself, however, into violent collision with the 
Roman See by parliamentary legislation which was thought to 
interfere with the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church, and 
saved himself from excommunication only by proposing a com- 
promise. He was evidently bent on the reformation of the 
Church as well as the State. He ordered the bishop of St 
Andrews to take measures for recovering the possessions 
of which his See had been robbed by his predecessors : he 
ordered the Benedictines and Augustinians to restore their 
ancient discipline, and save themselves from ruin. 2 Unfor- 
tunately he proceeded still further. The death of Resby had 
not suppressed the opinions he cherished. So many had em- 
braced them as to have attracted the attention and excited the 
alarm of the legislature. Accordingly, in a parliament held in 
1425, it was enacted that every bishop within his diocese 
should make inquisition for all Lollards and heretics, in order 
that they might be punished, and that wherever it was neces- 
sary the secular arm should be called in to support the laws 
and authority of the Church. 3 Eight years elapsed after the 
passing of this act before we hear of its being put into force. 
But in the year 1433 it found a victim. 

o A Bohemian of the name of Paul_Cr aw had 

come from Prague to Scotland, for what reason 
is not very well known. He was a physician, but he appears 
to have been more zealous in propagating his religious opin- 
ions than in practising medicine. Lawrence Lindores, who 
had conducted the impeachment of Resby, again signalized 
his zeal for the Church by seizing Craw and arraigning him as 
a heretic. The Bohemian appears to have denied the doc- 

1 Most parliaments were opened by such an act. The first act of the 
first parliament of James was as follows : — " In the first to the honour of 
God and halie kirk, It is statute and ordained, that the halie kirk joyes 
and bruikis, and the ministers of it, thar auld priviledges and freedomes, 
And that no man let them to set thar lands or teinds under pain that may 
follow be spiritual law or temporal." 

2 Robertson's Concilia, Pref. Ixxxviii.-xc. 

3 James I., pari. ii. chap, xxviii. 

A.D. 1435.] .l.NEAS SILVIUS IN SCOTLAND. 1 37 

trine of transubstantiation, the existence of purgatory, the 
efficacy of absolution ; and to have maintained that the Bible, 
in the native tongue, should be open to all. It would also 
seem that in the celebration of the Supper, he and his followers 
observed a form not greatly different from that presently in 
use in Presbyterian Churches. The Lord's prayer was recited 
— the words of institution were read — and the elements of 
bread and wine given to the communicants. Craw was fur- 
ther accused of denying the resurrection of the dead, and 
encouraging gross immorality ; but in all probability these 
were the slanderous inventions of his enemies. 1 When put 
upon his trial he exhibited great acuteness and knowledge of 
the Scriptures ; but it was in vain. He was condemned and 
burnt at St Andrews. 

Just a year before the tragic death of James I. 
I435 ' Scotland received an illustrious visitor. yEneas 
Silvius, afterwards Pope Pius II., came to our country as papal 
legate, and has left us some interesting notices of its condition 
at the time. " Concerning Scotland," says he, " these things 
are worthy of repetition. It is an island joined to England, 
stretching two hundred miles to the north, and about fifty 
broad ; a cold country, fertile of few sorts of grain, and gene- 
rally void of trees ; but there is a sulphureous stone dug up, 
which is used for firing. The towns are unwalled, the houses 
commonly built without lime, and in villages roofed with turf, 
while a cow's hide supplies the place of a door. The com- 
monalty are poor and uneducated, have abundance of flesh and 
fish, but eat bread as a dainty. The men are small in stature, 
but bold ; the women fair and comely, and prone to the 
pleasures of love— kisses being there esteemed of less conse- 
quence than pressing the hand is in Italy. The wine is all 
imported ; the horses are mostly small, ambling nags, only a few 
being preserved entire for propagation, and neither curry-combs 
nor reins are used. The oysters are larger than in England. 
From Scotland are imported into Flanders hides, wool, salt- 
fish, and pearls. Nothing gives the Scots more pleasure than 
to hear the English dispraised. The country is divided into 
two parts, — the cultivated lowlands, and the region where 
agriculture is not used. The wild Scots have a different lan- 
guage, and sometimes eat the bark of trees." 

" Coals are given to the poor at the church-doors by way of 

1 Fordun Scolichron., lib. xvi. c. 20. Tvtler, vol. iii. 


alms, the country being denuded of wood." 1 The future Pope 
informs us, that, on his return, when he reached the north of 
England, disguised as a merchant, he could get neither bread 
nor wine ; and during the night, a report being spread that the 
Scottish borderers were approaching, the men fled, but the 
women remained quietly at home, undismayed by the prospect 
of the probable result. 

, In 1436, James was basely assassinated in 

the convent of the Dominicans at Perth. He 
was perhaps the most energetic monarch who ever occupied 
our throne ; and many of the laws passed during his reign 
prove his anxiety to promote trade and to ameliorate the con- 
dition of the poor. But it is probable that, had he lived, he 
would have completely crushed the nobility, and in freeing 
the country from their rapacity and turbulence, exposed it to 
the hazard of a monarchical despotism. His death brought 
upon the nation the evils of a long minority. His eldest son, 
James II., was but six years old when he was crowned king. 
There was now repeated the often-told tale of fierce contend- 
ings for place and power. Crichton struggled with Living- 
stone, and Livingstone with Crichton, for the supreme direc- 
tion of affairs ; and the unhappy royal child was carried about 
from place to place, to be used as a puppet — was captured and 
recaptured — was now a prisoner at Edinburgh, now at Stirling ; 
while the house of Douglas appeared to overtop the very 
monarchy, like some huge tower overtopping the walls of a 
beleaguered city, and threatening its destruction. But this 
came to an end. Before James was arrived at manhood he 
seized the reins of government, and held them so firmly as 
soon to show that he had inherited some of the energy and 
resolution of his father. 

Up to this time when a bishop died his personal estate went 
to the crown, probably on the theory that he could have no 
heirs proper to whom to leave it. The Church had frequently 
remonstrated against this but without success. But now in a 
parliament held in 1449 the bishops went down upon their 
knees before the king, and the ancient custom was revoked, 
and the prelates allowed to leave their money to whom they 
pleased. 2 At this period there were always some nephews 
or nieces whom the good bishops loved with an affection 
entirely paternal — what more natural than that they should 
wish to leave them their wealth ? 

1 Pii II., Comment, rerum. mem. sui temporis. 
iJ Act Pari. Scot., James II. 


In perusing the annals of this reign, so full 
of feuds, assassinations, and all the darkest 
passions of our nature, it is pleasing to light upon a page which 
records the erection of a second university. It is a gleam of 
sunshine in the midst of a tempest. On the 7th of January 
1450, Pope Nicolas V. issued a bull for the erection of a sta- 
dium generate, or University in Glasgow. It is to William 
Turnbull, the bishop of the diocese, that we are indebted for 
the boon ; but the papal bull of erection proceeds upon the 
desire of the king, and the fitness of the city for producing 
the fruits of learning to the advantage of all Scotland and 
the neighbouring nations, " by reason of the salubrity of its 
climate, the plenty of victuals, and of everything necessary 
for the use of man ; that there the Catholic faith may abound, 
the simple be instructed, justice taught, reason flourish, and 
the minds and understandings of men be enlightened and 
enlarged." In this foundation-charter it is further ordained, 
that the doctors, masters, lecturers, and students of the Uni- 
versity of Glasgow should enjoy all the privileges granted by 
the Apostolic See to the University of the city of Bologna. 1 
The papal bull was solemnly read at the market-cross ; a 
plenary indulgence was promised to all who should visit the 
cathedral during the current year ; and the University of the 
West began its career, obscure at first, but ever marking its 
track through time with a broader and brighter splendour. 

The royal protection was soon extended to the infant semi- 
nary. On the 20th of April 1453, James II., by his royal 
letters, "took under his firm peace, protection, and safeguard, 
all and every the rector, deans of faculty, procurators of nations, 
regents, masters, and scholars, in the aforesaid university, and 
exempted them, together with the beadles, writers, stationers, 
parchment-makers, and students, from all tributes, services, 
exactions, taxations, collections, watchings, wardings, and all 
dues whatsoever imposed within the kingdom, or to be im- 
posed." 2 In the same year Bishop Turnbull executed a deed, 
confirming and explaining the privileges granted by papal and 
royal favour to his university, and granting others, which show 
how much it was in the power of a bishop to grant. But 
though possessed of such high privileges, the university does 
not appear to have yet fallen heir to any property or endow- 

1 Origines Parochiales Scotiae — Glasgow. 

2 Origines — Glasgow. In this document James calls the university— 
" Alma Universitas Glasguensis, filia nostra dilecta." 


ments, and must have resembled some of our ancient nobility 
in the seventeenth century, who, with illustrious titles and ex- 
tensive hereditable jurisdictions, could scarcely muster enough 
of money to purchase a coat, or furnish themselves with a 
meal. " The university," says Professor Jardine, " came into 
the world as naked as every individual." 

It found its first domicile in the Rottenrow, where there was 
a house known long afterwards as the " Aulde Pedagoge ; " but 
on the 6th of June 1459, James Lord Hamilton bequeathed to 
the regent and students a tenement "in the street leading 
down from the cathedral to the market-cross, near the place of 
the Dominican Friars," together with four acres of land in the 
Dowhill, contiguous to the Molendinar Burn, upon condition 
that every day they should, in a prescribed form, pray for his 
own soul and the soul of Euphemia, his countess ; and that if 
an oratory should ever be built within the college, the regent 
and students should there also daily convene, and, on their 
bended knees, sing an Ave to the Virgin, with a collect and 
memoria for himself and his wife. 1 Whether or not the regent 
and students were thus careful to remember Lord James and 
his lady in their prayers, the tenement was taken possession 
of, and it served to shelter the learning of the west, till it w T as 
thrown down, and the buildings were erected upon its site, 
which accommodated the University till a few years ago, when 
it moved westwards from the squalor of the High Street to the 
palatial structure which the munificence of the city merchants 
provided for it on Gilmore Hill. Three years later than Lord 
Hamilton's gift, David de Cadiou, Canon of Glasgow and Rector 
of the University, assigned an annual sum of twelve merks, from 
certain lands and tenements in the burgh, to endow a clerk in 
the faculty of the sacred canons, who should be bound to read 
lectures in the public schools within the city in the morning, 
and celebrate mass at the altar of the Virgin in the lower 
church of the cathedral, for the donor, his parents, friends, and 
benefactors. 2 In 1466 another tenement, adjoining that already 
obtained, was bequeathed to the university by Thomas Arthurlie. 
These were the first benefactors of this celebrated school ; and 
though we may no longer say masses for their souls, it is right we 
should hold their names in grateful remembrance. Their ex- 
ample was not generally followed, and for a century and a half 
the University of Glasgow remained wretchedly poor. 

In accordance with the papal bull, the university contained 

1 Origines — Glasgow. 2 Ibid. 


four different faculties — theology, canon law, civil law, and 
arts. We have no very explicit information in regard to the 
first professorships that were instituted, or the first lectures 
that were read. From its first institution the university en- 
joyed the privilege of conferring degrees. In order to the 
acquisition of one of these, a certain period required to be 
devoted to study within the university ; certain prelections 
heard ; Porphyrie's " Introduction to Aristotle," and " Petrus 
Hispanus " mastered ; a searching examination endured ; and 
then the chancellor or vice-chancellor bestowed the coveted 
academical honour, as by Divine authority, and in the name 
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 1 

Within the first two years of its existence, upwards of a 
hundred persons were admitted members of the university, but 
these were chiefly Churchmen, ambitious of the honours and 
privileges of a learned corporation, and not young men com- 
mencing their studies. Among its earliest professors were 
John Major, David Melville, and John Adamson. Among its 
first students were William Manderstone, successively Rector 
of the University of Paris and St Andrews, Cardinal Beaton, 
John Knox, and John Spottiswood. But still earlier than 
these, and among the matriculated in 1451, was a William 
Elphinston. This youth afterwards rose to great distinction in 
the canon and civil law ; he became Bishop of Aberdeen and 
Chancellor of the Kingdom, and showed his enlightened 
liberality by founding and endowing a university in his epis- 
copal city. Thus is one lamp lighted at another. 2 

At this period the students ate at a common table, as is 
still the case in the great English universities. The regents sat 
at table with them and maintained order. At nine o'clock at 
night the gates of the college were shut, and the regents -visited 
the rooms of the students to see that they were in bed ; and 
again, at five in the morning, they went their rounds to see that 
they were astir. The universities were in many respects copies 
from monastic models. Many of the professors were monks, 
many of the students were designed to be monks, and the 
monasteries had hitherto accomplished imperfectly, what the 
universities were now intended to do in a more perfect way. 

It would appear that the students in arts were distinguished, 

1 Statistical Account of the University of Glasgow, transmitted by Pro- 
fessor G. Jardine, in the name of the Principal and Professors of the 
University. — See Statistical Account of Scotland, 1799, vol. xxi. 

2 Statistical Account, &c. M'Crie's Life of Melville, vol. i. 


according to their rank, into the sons of noblemen, of gentle- 
men, and of those of humbler pedigree — distinctions which 
are now happily abolished in all the seats of learning in Scot- 
land, where it is only superior genius or superior industry that 
can raise one student above his fellows. Among these youths, 
it was essential that discipline should be maintained, and as 
suasion frequently fails, corporal punishment might be in- 
flicted ; and the statutes carefully provide, that in certain cases 
it should be administered caligis laxatis. But notwithstand- 
ing the rigour of its discipline, the university languished. It 
languished because it was poor. We hear complaints of 
masters not attending upon their duties, of licentiates not 
proceeding with their degrees, of statutes having fallen into 
disuse, and of the jurisdiction of the university being despised. 
The three higher faculties gradually died from inanition, and 
at the Reformation the faculty of arts alone gave some feeble 
symptoms of remaining vitality. 1 But we must now revert to 
our narrative. 

The Second James followed the example of his father in 
resolving to hold the Church patronage of the kingdom in his 
own hands, to the exclusion of the Holy See ; and in this he 
was supported by the national clergy. During his reign, a 
provincial council was held at Perth, in which it was declared, 
that by the ancient law and custom of Scotland, the presenta- 
tion to all vacant benefices, within a vacant bishopric, be- 
longed to the Crown. 2 In all other matters the king and the 
clergy appear to have been bound to one another by mutual 
interests and mutual support ; and it is certain, that if the 
throne lost some of its strength by the alienation of its ancient 
demesnes to the Church, it was more than compensated by the 
assistance which the Church gave it in hours of need. 

The chief friend and counsellor of James II. was Kennedy, 
who succeeded Wardlaw in the See of St Andrews. He was 
at once the greatest and the best man of his age. His portrait 
is one of the most prominent in the gloomy picture of the 
times, presenting a benign aspect amid many fierce and 
frowning visages-. He was so much occupied with affairs of 
State, that one would think he must have' neglected his epis- 
copal duties, and yet we know that no prelate was more 
attentive to these. He is said to have visited every church in 
his diocese four times in the year, and to have been par- 
ticularly careful in compelling every parson and vicar to reside 
1 Statistical Account, &c. 2 Tytler's History, vol. iv. 

A.D. 1466.] BISHOP KENNEDY. 1 43 

within his parish, to preach the Word, administer the sacra- 
ments, and visit the sick. 1 Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie gives 
an anecdote of him, which is illustrative at once of his 
patriotism and piety. The Earl of Douglas had entered into 
a conspiracy against the throne with some of the most power- 
ful barons, and their adherents were already in arms. In this 
emergency the king hurried to St Andrews to take the advice 
of the bishop, whose fidelity and wisdom had already been so 
often tried. The good prelate first of all led his Majesty into 
his oratory, that together they might ask guidance from the 
Almighty Disposer of all events ; and this being done, he next 
conducted him to his study, and put into his hand a bundle 
of arrows firmly bound together, and asked him to break them 
if he could. The monarch with all his strength was unable, 
upon which the bishop unbound them, and taking them singly 
easily snapped them all asunder. " Sir," said he, addressing 
the king, "you must even do in this manner with your 
barons." James understood the hint, and taking his direc- 
tions still further from Kennedy, managed to dissolve the 
dangerous confederacy which had been formed against him. 
and to reduce the overgrown power of the Douglases. 2 

James was untimely killed at the siege of Roxburgh Castle, 
by the bursting of a cannon ; and again were heard through- 
out the kingdom the doleful words, " Woe unto thee, O land, 
when thy king is a child." But Kennedy still lived, and 
managed as no other man could have done to keep down 
faction. In 1466 he died, and his death was felt to be a 
national calamity, for he left no one behind him capable of 
governing the kingdom with such integrity and discretion. 
" His death," says Buchanan, " was so lamented by all good 
men, as if in him they had lost a public father." 

It is to this prelate we owe the foundation of St Salvator's 
College at St Andrews. He assigned also a large sum of 
money to erect a tomb for himself, which still remains, a 
monument of his wealth, and of a weakness from which, with 
all his virtues, he was not exempt. " He founded," says 
Lindsay, " a triumphant college at St Andrews, called St 
Salvator's College, wherein he made his lair very curiously 
and costly; and also, he bigged a ship called the Bishop's 
Berge ; and when all three were complete, he knew not which 
of the three was costliest."' 3 

1 Lindsay's History, p. 69. - Ibid., pp. 52, 55. 

* Ibid., p. 68. 


Kennedy was succeeded in the See of St Andrews by 
Patrick Graham, his near relative. The learning and virtues 
of this ecclesiastic, not to speak of his royal birth, for he 
was nephew of James I. and grandson of Robert III., made 
him worthy of the high post he was called to fill. He had 
been elected by the canons, as was then usual, but he required 
the Pope's bull of confirmation to make his title complete. 
The Boyds, who now ruled the court and the kingdom, wished 
to prevent this, but he stealthily left the country and posted to 
Rome, where he found favour with the Pope, and got his 
election confirmed. Afraid to return home on account of the 
bitter animosity of the prevailing faction, he resolved to remain 
at the papal court till some change should occur among the 
parties in power. While there he managed to gain such influ- 
ence with Sixtus IV., that he obtained a bull erecting St An- 
drews into an Archiepiscopal and Metropolitan See. The 
Pope, to give a still greater grace to the first archbishop whom 
Scotland had seen, appointed him apostolic nuncio, with full 
power to reform all abuses in the Church, and levy soldiers 
and subsidies for a crusade. Neville, Archbishop of York, 
remonstrated violently against this elevation of Graham as an 
infringement of his jurisdiction, but it was in vain. 1 

Scotland had now gained the honour which 
for several centuries she had ardently desired, as 
the primacy of York was most effectually barred by the pri- 
macy of St Andrews ; and the spiritual independence of the 
kingdom was thus for ever secured. Graham rejoiced, and 
naturally thought that all good men would rejoice with him. 
As soon, therefore, as he heard that the Boyds had fallen from 
their high pinnacle of power, and that the young king had 
taken the government into his own hands, he hastened to 
return home, sending the papal bulls before him, that they 
might prepare his triumphal way. He had no sooner landed 
than he discovered his mistake. Envy of his fortunes and 
dread of his reforms had raised him up many enemies, who 
poisoned the ear of the king with insinuations that he had 
violated the law of the realm in leaving the kingdom, and 
carrying on negotiations with the papal court without the royal 
license. He was cited to answer for his conduct at Edinburgh, 
on the i st of November. When put upon his trial, Graham 
appealed to his bulls, and pleaded the service he had rendered 
to his country ; but his enemies appealed to the Pope, and 
1 Robertson's Concilia, Fief., cxii. 

A.D. 1472.] A MAD ARCHBISHOP. 145 

offered to prove the invalidity of the documents he presented. 
The king is said to have had his judgment swayed by a pre- 
sent of eleven thousand merks ; and so he ordered Graham to 
retire to his bishopric, and refrain from wearing the archiepis- 
copal pall till the cause were determined. 1 

Conspicuous among the enemies of the new archbishop was 
one William Shevez, an able but unprincipled man, who had 
acquired great favour at court from his supposed acquaintance 
with the fashionable science of astrology. Through his in- 
trigues the revenues of St Andrews were seized and confiscated 
by the king. The bankers of Rome, with whom Graham had 
got deeply involved, hearing of the trouble into which he had 
fallen, now became clamant, and the impoverished primate 
was unable to satisfy their demands. In these circumstances, 
a nuncio was despatched to Scotland to inquire into the case. 
It was affirmed that the archbishop spoke blasphemously 
against the Holy See, that he revoked its indulgences and 
spurned its censures, that he believed himself the Pope, ap- 
pointed legates to different parts of the world, would celebrate 
mass three times in a day, and finally began to broach some 
horrible, but unreported heresies. 2 As the only explanation 
of these aberrations, it was said he was mad ; but it is evident 
there was method in his madness, and even some gleams of 
sense, and it is just possible insanity may have been alleged to 
save the Church from the scandal of its metropolitan being 
a heretic. However this may be, he was degraded from his 
office, and committed to the keeping of his mortal enemy 
Shevez, who kept him a close prisoner, first at Inchcolm, and 
afterwards at Lochleven, where he died. Shevez managed to 
get himself appointed to the archbishopric in his place, found- 
ing his fortune on the ruin of a far better and worthier man. 

Among the elements which conspired to the ruin of Graham, 
by uniting the king and the higher clergy against him, was the 
shameless huckstering in benefices which began at this period. 
The first two Jameses had prohibited the clergy from purchas- 
ing benefices at the court of Rome ; but it was reserved for 
the third James to divert the stream of wealth which had 
hitherto flowed into the Pope's treasury, so that it might be 
poured into his own. Under his reign an act was passed for- 
bidding the procuring of benefices at Rome, the collection of 

1 Buchanan, book xii. S pott is wood, book ii. 

2 Theiner's Vetera Monumenta, p. 480. Robertson's Concilia, Pref. 


more money for the Papal See than had been regulated by the 
ancient taxation of Bagimont, and confirming the right of the 
clergy to the election of their own dignitaries. 1 But in two 
years this law was violated by its maker. The monks of Dun- 
fermline, according to ancient usuage, had chosen for them- 
selves an abbot ; but the king, probably won by a bribe, 
recommended another to the Pope for confirmation, and the 
Pope at once confirmed the royal nominee. 2 This was but 
the beginning of the system. Bishoprics, abbacies, priories, 
parishes, were now openly sold by the king and his favourites ; 
and men of worthless character, and even laymen, were thus 
intruded into the office of the ministry. Patrick Graham was 
known to be opposed to such practices ; and it was feared 
that when he was armed with primatial and legatine powers 
many Simonists would be thrown out, and the lucrative trade 
in benefices checked, This hastened his fall. 

It is obvious that even already the king and his nobles began 
to grudge the Church its possessions. After this period no 
new abbeys were built, no new bishoprics endowed. But what 
had been given could not be regained. The Church was too 
strong for this ; and had the monarch put forth his hand to 
touch her, she would have cursed him to his face. But an 
expedient was devised by which the Church retained her 
wealth, and the king and the barons enjoyed it. When a 
bishopric or priory became vacant, it was bestowed upon some 
friend, or sold for money, or given as the reward of services, 
which could not otherwise be so easily repaid. It is melan- 
choly to mark the number of bastards — the illegitimate sons 
of nobles and kings — who became bishops and abbots after this 
period ; and when there was no bastard — which was seldom 
the case — there was always a younger son, who, deprived by 
aristocratic pride of any share in the family property, received 
a richer inheritance in the patrimony of the Church. Such an 
exercise of patronage was necessarily followed by the decay of 
piety and devotedness among the clergy, especially among the 
regulars. It is probably to this cause we are to trace the rise 
of a new species of religious foundation, which belongs to this 
age — collegiate churches or provostries. According to the 
constitution of these, the secular canons formed a body at the 
college church, and employed themselves in singing masses for 
the founders, and performing ether parts of divine service, 

J James III., pari. i. chap. i\\; also, pari. vi. chap. xliv. 

2 Balfour's Annals, vol. i. Pinkerton, vol. i. ...0 


while vicars served their respective parishes. But still the 
sore evil spread. A mercenary spirit had been introduced 
into the Church. Money-changers had gained admittance to 
the temple ; and there was needed a reformer to overturn their 
tables, and drive them out with a scourge of cords. 

In 1488 James III., a monarch of some accomplishments, 
but devoted to favourites of low birth, and too inactive to 
repress aristocratic turbulence — was assassinated by a pre- 
tended priest at Milltown, in fleeing from the civil strife of 
Sauchie. His son, James IV., a youth of sixteen, who cannot 
be acquitted of the unnatural crimes of treason and rebellion 
against his father, succeeded him on the throne. The young 
monarch afterwards repented bitterly the share he had in his 
father's death ; and whatever may have been his faults, he was 
certainly a most energetic and chivalrous prince, resembling in 
some respects James I. 

During his reign Scotland was enriched with a third univer- 
sity. At the request of Bishop Elphinston, James IV. applied 
for a papal bull for the erection of a stadium generate in Aber- 
deen. In his letter to the Pope, the king gives a melancholy 
picture of the state of the north country. " The inhabitants," 
he says, " are ignorant of letters, and almost uncivilised ; there 
are no persons to be found fit to preach the Word of God to the 
people, or to administer the sacraments of the Church ; and, 
besides, the country is so intersected with mountains and arms 
of the sea, so distant from universities already erected, and 
the roads so dangerous, that the youth have not access to the 
benefit of education in those seminaries." " But," adds the 
king, " the city of Old Aberdeen is situated at a moderate 
distance from the highland country and nothern islands, enjoys 
an excellent temperature of air, abundance of provisions, and 
the conveniency of habitation, and of everything necessary for 
human life." In compliance with the royal request, Pope 
Alexander VI. issued a bull in 1494 for erecting in the city of 
Aberdeen a studium generate et universitas studii genera/is for 
theology, canon and civil law, medicine, the liberal r.rts, and 
every other lawful faculty ; ordaining that it should enjoy all 
the rights and privileges of the Universities of Bo'ogna and 
Paris, and that the bishops of Aberdeen should in ill time be 
its chancellors. 

In 1497 James IV. granted a charter of confirmation, em- 
powering Bishop Elphinston to erect a college within the 
university, and to divide its revenues between the masters and 


scholars as he should see fit, according to the powers vested 
in him by the Pope. It was not till 1506 that this college was 
erected. It was dedicated to the Holy Virgin. It was to con- 
sist of thirty-six ordinary members, among the chief of whom 
were a doctor in each of the four faculties of theology, 
canon law, civil law, and medicine ; the doctor of theology 
to be styled principal, and to bear rule over all the mem- 
bers of the college. Next to these came two masters of 
arts, the first of whom was to be called regent, and con- 
stituted sub-principal ; the other was to be call grammarian, 
and his province was to consist in teaching the elements 
of literature. These were the permanent members of the 
college, and, with the exception of the mediciner, they were 
all to be ecclesiastics. 1 A chair of medicine was perfectly 
new to Scotland. Henceforward the science of healing was 
to be taken out of the hands of barbers and old wives, and 
entrusted to men of science. 

Besides these permanent members, there were also a num- 
ber of masters and bachelors of arts, who were to hold their 
situations only for a certain number of years ; thirteen poor 
scholars of respectable talents and proficiency in the specu- 
lative sciences ; and, last of all, eight prebendaries and six 
singing-boys for the service of the Church. For the accom- 
modation of his learned society, the patriotic bishop, with the 
assistance of the king, erected the noble buildings which still 
remain as a monument of his liberality and taste. By dona- 
tions during his life, and a legacy of ten thousand pounds be- 
queathed at his death, he endowed his college with a truly 
princely munificence ; and thus the doctors were able to " pre- 
lect every lecture-day, each in his own faculty, and dressed in 
his own habit." 2 

The laws of this northern university give us no very favour- 
able idea of student life in those early times. All, great and 
small, in the college are ordained to live honestly ; they are 
prohibited from keeping public concubines, from carrying 
arms, from being night-walkers, panders, or vagabond buffoons ; 
and are exhorted rather to devote themselves to good manners 
and liberal studies. 3 But a still greater scandal was brought 

1 Report of Commissioners on Scottish Universities, p. 305. Statistical 
Account of the University and King's College of Aberdeen, by the Mem- 
bers of the University. See Statistical Account of Scotland, 1799, vol. xxi. 

2 Statistical Account, ut supra. 
8 Report of Commissioners. 

A.D. 1497.] HECTOR BOETHIUS. 149 

upon the ancient literature and universities of the country, by 
an Act of Parliament passed in 1599, which established a 
regular " ordour of punishment " for sorners, masterful beggars, 
and vagabonds. This act, after specifying jugglers, gypsies, 
fortune-tellers, idlers, minstrels, counterfeiters of licenses, mari- 
ners pretending they have been shipwrecked, proceeds to 
mention " all vagabond scholars of the Universities of St 
Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, not licensed by the rector 
and dean of faculty to ask almes." It is enacted and declared, 
that these shall be taken, esteemed, and punished as strong 
beggars and vagabonds. 1 It is comforting to know that the 
same reproach lies at the door of other and still more cele- 
brated universities. 

The first principal of King's College, Aberdeen, was Hector 
Boethius, who was honoured with the correspondence of 
Erasmus, and justly obtained a high reputation for his classi- 
cal attainments and lively fancy. As a historian, however, he 
had too great a love for the marvellous, and could not refrain 
from inventing facts, and imbellishing those he did not re- 
quire to invent with a garniture of his own. His " His tor ice 
Scottorum " is contained in seventeen books, beginning with 
Gathelus and Pharaoh, and ending with the death of James I. 
He closes his labours very characteristically, by telling of a sow 
that brought forth a dog, and of a cow that had a calf with the 
head of a horse. Yet, though not often quoted as an authority, 
he will long be remembered as one of the earliest of Scottish 
historians. His tomb, together with that of Bishop Elphin- 
ston, is in the chapel of the college so famous for its exquisite 
carvings in wood. The whole buildings are massive and im- 
posing, and Billings has declared that there is no structure in 
Scotland which possesses more of a cloister-like repose. 2 

The fifteenth century witnessed the erection of three univer- 
sities ; and for all of them are we indebted to the Church. 
The building of cathedrals and abbeys had declined ; the build- 
ing of schools and colleges had commenced. It was a health- 
ful and a hopeful sign. It spoke of a future illumined with 
learning. It augured a change in the Church, though the 
Church understood it not. The dawn of knowledge was the 
dawn of the Reformation. And while benevolent and enlight- 
ened prelates furnished the youth of Scotland with the means 
of obtaining at home a liberal education, the monarch resolved 

1 James VI., pari. vi. chap, lxxiv. 

- Ecclesiastical and Baronial Antiquities of Scotland, vol. i. 


that these means should not be furnished in vain. In the 
fifth parliament of James IV. it was statute and ordained that 
all barons and freeholders of substance should keep their eldest 
sons and heirs at school till they were taught Latin, philosophy, 
and the laws, under a penalty of twenty pounds. This short 
law speaks volumes. 1 A great change must have come over 
men's minds before it could have been imagined or passed : 
the learning which a century before would have been accounted 
degrading is here made compulsory. A new era had un- 
doubtedly begun. The present compulsory system of educa- 
tion is, to some extent, only the revival of a law already on the 

A native literature was now beginning to push out its first 
buds. Andrew de Winton, prior of St Serf's monastery in Loch- 
leven, published, about 1420, his rhyming Cronykil of Scotland, 
and though his poetic genius is inferior to that of Barbour (the 
earliest of our native bards), he has helped to form our language, 
besides giving an animated narrative of many important events. 
Forty years later Blind Harry wrote his Adventures of Sir William 
Wallace, a version of which, in modern Scotch, has been long 
popular with the Scotch peasantry, and is said to have first 
kindled the poetic genius of Burns. But even before this James 
I. had written the King's Quhair and Christes Kirk on the 
Grene. Thus native thought first appeared in a native garb. 

It has frequently been maintained that the Scottish ecclesi- 
astics of this period were scandalously ignorant and illiterate. 
It is certain they were unacquainted with sciences not then 
known ; unread in books not then published ; and that they 
were better versed in their missal than their Bible. But it will 

1 The design of this Act was to fit the sons of the gentry to act as local 
magistrates. It is curious enough to deserve transcription : — " It is statute 
and ordained throw all the realme, that all barronnes and freehalders that 
are of substance put their eldest sonnes and aires to the schule, fra they be 
six or nine zeires of age, and till remaine at the grammar-schules, quhill 
they be competently founded, and have perfite Latin ; and thereafter to 
remaine three zeires at the schules of art and jure, swa that they have 
knowledge and understanding of the laws. Throw the quhilks justice may 
remaine universally throw all the realme ; swa that they that are Sheri fifes 
or Judges Ordinares, under the Kingis Hienesse, may have knowledge to 
do justice, that the puir people suld have na neede to seek our Soveraine 
Lordis Principal Auditour for ilk small injurie. And quhat barronne or 
freeholder of substance that holdes not his sonne at the schule, as guid is, 
havand na lauchfull essoinzie, but failzies herein, fra knawledge may be 
gotten thereof, he sail pay to the king the summe of twentie pound. (James 
IV., pari. v. chap.liv.) 



be difficult to prove that they were either stupid or unlearned, 
when compared with the generation then existing, or tried by 
the standard then in use. Every important deed was drawn 
by their pens ; every important office of State was in their 
hands ; the schools were taught by them ; the universities 
were founded by them. All the authors were still ecclesiastics ; 
and though few of the productions of this period have come 
down to us, it must be remembered that much of what was 
then done has perished ; and very probably, in three hundred 
years hence little more of the teeming authorship of the nine- 
teenth century will be found still floating on the tide of time. 
It is monstrously unfair to blame the ancient priesthood for 
not having raised Europe all at once from Gothic barbarity. 
It is false to charge them with systematically trying to keep the 
people in ignorance. How could they teach a knowledge not 
yet known ; communicate ideas not yet dreamt of; confer a 
civilisation which nowhere existed ; compel haughty barons to 
enter their schools, who would thereby have considered them- 
selves to be lowered to the level of monks ? The old clergy laid 
the foundations of our civilisation and sciences, though another 
race reared the superstructure. Every new step in advance 
was taken by them ; and they undoubtedly ever walked first of 
the men of their generation in that slow and painful progress 
which has led to the high and commanding eminence on which 
we now stand. 

AndrewForman, Bishop of Moray, in the reign of James IV., 
has been cited as an instance of ignorance, and as a specimen 
of his class. 1 Forman was probably a poor Latinist, and his 
wit sometimes got the better of his piety ; but he was one of 
the ablest diplomatist, if not one of the best prelates, of his 
day. When the armies of the Roman Pontiff and the French 
King were ready to come to blows, the Bishop of Moray 
managed to make peace. He was rewarded for his services by 
the Pope with the mule upon which his holiness rode, and by 
being made Legate of Scotland : he was rewarded by the king 
for this and other services connected with an invasion of 
England, by being made Archbishop of Bourges. 2 From this 
period he was constantly employed on embassages between the 
Scotch and French Courts ; and on more occasions than one 
he was despatched to negotiate with the King of England. 

1 Among others, by Dr M'Crie, in his " Life of Knox," p. 12 (note). 
- Lindsay, History, pp. 106-7. Burton's History, chap. 30. 


The story upon which the belief in his ignorance is founded 
is this : When at Rome, he gave a banquet to the Pope and 
his cardinals. Required to say a Latin grace, the unexpected 
responses of the sacred company put him out, and he fairly 
broke down. Instantly recovering himself, however, he 
mumbled, in his own vernacular, " all the false carils to the 
devil, in nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti; " to which the 
Pope and the cardinals solemnly responded, " Amen." Forman 
afterwards took the liberty of explaining the import of his 
Scoto-Latin petition, which, instead of giving offence, caused 
the greatest merriment. 1 The scene does not heighten one's 
ideas of papal and episcopal propriety : we find ourselves in 
the company of jovial boon companions, rather than of grave 
and reverend signors ; but, apart from this, is it not just pos- 
sible that even a Presbyterian minister of the present day 
might find his scholarship to fail him if asked to say a Latin 
grace ; and would it be fair to infer from this that all the 
Presbyterian clergy were illiterate and ignorant men ? If 
Forman could not speak Latin (which is unlikely), he must 
have spoken fluently both French and Italian, or he could not 
have filled the posts which he did. 

Shevez was now Archbishop of St Andrews, 
49 and James began to find that he had a rival in 
his realm, for the primate seemed to have a pleasure in 
thwarting the king, and exhibiting his spiritual independence. 
But James had seen how, in England, the pretensions of Can- 
terbury were kept in check by those of York, and therefore he 
resolved to balance St Andrews by Glasgow. He impor- 
tuned the Pope to send to the Bishop of Glasgow the archi- 
episcopal pallium. " No small wrong and danger," he writes 
in one of his letters, " might arise to me and my successors 
from having only one spiritual primate throughout my whole 
kingdom. Honours ought to be distributed, and as the sove- 
reign pontiffs have divided the power, jurisdiction, and dignity 
ecclesiastical in the realm of England to its advantage, it 
would have been to the honour and dignity of my realm had 
you, with the counsel of the Sacred College, raised the Church of 
Glasgow to enjoy all the privileges and dignities of that of 
York, the Church of St Andrews being of similar creation to 
that of Canterbury." Speaking with just pride of the Church 
of St Mungo, the monarch said, " I have written many letters 

1 Lindsay, History, p. 106. Though Lindsay gives this story, it looks 


to you and the Sacred College for the raising of the famous 
Church of Glasgow, which surpasses the other cathedral churches 
of my realm by its structure, its learned men, its foundation, its 
ornaments, and other very noble prerogatives, to metropolitan, 
primatial, and born legatine rank, like the Church of York in 
England." He begs the Pope not to listen to the representa- 
tions of the Archbishop of St Andrews, but to grant the peti- 
tion of a prince so devoted to him, as otherwise he would 
consider himself despised. The importunities of the king at 
length prevailed, and in 1490 Innocent VIII. issued a bull 
erecting Glasgow into an archbishopric, and placing the dioceses 
of Glasgow, Galloway, Dunblane, and Lismore under its 
jurisdiction. 1 The Archbishop of St Andrews could ill brook 
this diminution of a glory and a power so recently received, 
and refused to acknowledge the new archbishop. A furious 
feud was the result, which was handed down from archbishop 
to archbishop, and Knox describes with infinite humour and 
glee a quarrel for precedence between the followers of the two 
archbishops at Glasgow. 2 

Blackadder, the new archbishop, soon showed 
494- fjj s zea j f or fae Church which had raised him to 
such honour. Opinions opposed to the established faith and 
worship were beginning to be widely diffused. A class of 
religionists called Lollards had sprung up, and were numerous, 
especially in the districts of Carrick, Kyle, and Cunningham ; 
and the archbishop resolved if possible to purge his diocese of 
heretics. Thirty suspected persons were accordingly cited to 
appear before the king and his council in the year 1494, 
among whom were Reid of Barskimming, Campbell of 
Cessnock, Campbell of Newmills, Shaw of Polkemmet, Helen 
Chalmers, Lady Polkillie, and Isabel Chalmers, Lady Stairs. 
Their indictment contained thirty-four different articles. 
Among the chief of these were : — That images, relics, and the 
virgin, were not proper objects of worship ; that the bread and 
wine in the sacrament were not transubstantiated into the 
body and blood of Christ ; that no priest or pope could grant 
absolutions or indulgences ; that masses could not profit the 
dead ; that miracles had ceased ; and that priests might law- 
fully marry. They appear also to have been accused of 
opinions which struck at the civil power ; but there is no evi- 
dence that they acknowledged these, and it is more than 

1 Brown's Calendar of State Papers in Venice, pp. 204-10. 

2 History, book i. 


probable they were false. Blackadder conducted the pro- 
secution, and tried to entangle the accused, but Barskim- 
ming answered the charges with such wit and good humour 
that the accusation was turned into laughter. James IV.. 
though somewhat superstitious, was not inclined to be a per- 
secutor, and so the proceedings were quashed. 1 

In the beginning of the sixteenth century there was intro- 
duced into our country an art, almost unnoticed by our ancient 
chroniclers, but which has done more to revolutionise society, 
and shape the destinies of the Church and the world, than 
any other human discovery. In 145.0 the first printed book 
issued from the German press, and it is pleasing to know that 
that book was a Bible. " We may see in imagination," says 
Mr Hallam, " this venerable and splendid volume leading up 
the crowded myriads of its followers, and imploring, as it were, 
a blessing on the new art, by dedicating its first fruits to the 
service of heaven." 2 About 1474 the art was introduced into 
England by Caxton. It required upwards of thirty years more 
to penetrate into Scotland. Walter Chepman, a servant in 
the king's household, has the merit of having set the first 
printing-press at work in our country. In 1508 he printed a 
small volume of pamphlets, and soon after, the " Breviary of 
Aberdeen." The king warmly patronised the printer, pur- 
chased his books, and granted him a patent to exercise his 
craft, the original of which still exists among the national 
records. 3 

We cannot agree with those who think that the reforma- 
tion of religion was the necessary consequence of the inven- 
tion of printing and the dif( ision of knowledge. But though 
printing was not the parent of the Reformation, it was one of 
its most powerful auxiliaries. It diffused knowledge, and thus 
diminished the distance between the clergy and laity. It made 
the communication of ideas easy, and thus sentiments, which 
must otherwise have been limited to a few, were extended to 
the many. When the Reformation broke out in Germany, 
the books of the Refonners found their way into Scotland. 
When the fulness of the time had come at home, the printing- 
press was called into use, and treatises, squibs, plays, and 
satirical songs issued thickly from it, like barbed arrows. 

1 Knox's History of the Reformation, book i. 

2 Introduction to Hist, of Lit., vol. i. p. 211. 

3 Tytler's History, vol. v. 

A D. 1513.] FLODDEN. 


Though printing did not create the new ideas, it gave them 

On the 9th of September 1513 James IV. was killed on the 
fatal field of Flodden. Alexander Stewart, his natural son, 
fell fighting by his side. This youth had studied in early life 
under Erasmus of Rotterdam. While yet a boy he was pre- 
ferred to the Archbishopric of St Andrews ; but when he 
donned the cassock, he did not think it necessary to doff the 
coat of mail. Nor did the age deem it necessary — popes had 
appeared at the head of armies. When the expedition had 
reached England, besieged Norham, and taken Ford Castle, 
a perfect paralysis came over the Scotch army. Lindsay 
declares that the king had been captivated by the beauty of 
the lady of the castle, and that while he spent his time in 
dalliance with her, the young prelate, his son, made love to 
her daughter ; and thus weeks were wasted, victuals became 
scarce, the army melted away, and the golden opportunity of 
victory was lost. 1 They both paid for their folly by their 
lives, but their gallantry does not atone for their guilt, as it 
did not restore to Scotland the many brave and noble ones 
who died in their defence. 

The life of James IV. affords a good illustration of the 
religious life of the period ; and his temperament was one 
which we frequently meet with, swinging him to and fro 
between scandalous sinnings and bitter repentings, overflowing 
joyousness and profound melancholy. The part he took in 
the treason which ended in his father's death made a wound 
on his conscience which would not heal \ and though he 
could never resist a woman's charms, when the first flush of 
love was over, he was always ready to do penance for his 
crimes. In 1494 Pope Alexander VI. sent his legate to Scot- 
land to comfort the king, who had become disquieted on 
account of his father's death. By the power given him by the 
Pope, the nuncio absolved the penitent, having first imposed 
as a penance that he should wear an iron chain about his waist 
all the days of his life, which James is said faithfully to have 
done. 2 Still religious sadness sometimes haunted him, and on 
these occasions he was wont to shut himself up in a convent, 
and refuse to see anyone but his confessor. The monastery 
of the Observantines at Stirling was his favourite retreat, 
whither he frequently retired, especially in Lent, and lived in 
every respect like a brother of the order. 

1 Lindsay, History, p. 113. 2 Balfour's Annals, vol. i. 


Seasons of gladness had also their peculiar expressions of 
thankfulness. On the 21st of February 1506, his young queen 
was brought to bed of a son, but after her delivery became 
dangerously ill. She recovered, however, and her fond, 
though sometimes delinquent husband set out upon foot in 
pilgrimage to St Ninian's Cathedral Church, in performance of 
a vow which he had made for her recovery. In the month of 
July, when the fair Margaret was perfectly restored, the royal 
couple set out together upon a second pilgrimage to White - 
horn, that together they might offer up their united thanks at 
the holy shrine. A third time in the same year did the devout 
monarch set out upon a pilgrimage, directing his steps on this 
occasion to the shrine of St Duthac, in Ross-shire. 1 Such 
devotion could not but be pleasing to the head of the Church, 
especially at a time when heretics were beginning to abound; 
and, accordingly, he sent to the pious monarch a cap and 
sword, and the title of " Protector of the Faith." 2 The king 
gratefully received the papal gifts ; but, so far as religion was 
concerned, he wisely allowed the sword to remain in its scab- 
bard, and his reign is not stained by the blood of a single 


In the same year in which Flodden was fought, Leo X. 
ascended the pontifical throne. Come of the magnificent 
house of the Medici, he had at once the faults and the virtues 
of his family. Gay, kind-hearted, and affable, every one left 
his presence full of his praise. Fond of ease and self-indulg- 
ence, averse to business and its drudgery, he frequently 
neglected the responsibilities of government ; and yet he pos- 
sessed a prudence, and even sagacity, which on several grave 
emergencies gave him a superiority over the ablest diplomatists 
of pAirope. Careless about religion, and not quite unimpeach- 
able in morals, he was yet vastly more exemplary than several 
of the popes who had preceded him. He was elegant in all 
his tastes, and a most liberal patron of the arts and sciences. 
His ante-rooms were constantly filled with sculptors, painters, 

1 Balfour's Annals, vol. i. 

2 Balfour's Annals, vol. i. This is understood to be the sword still 
preserved amongst the regalia in the Castle of Edinburgh. 

a.d. 1513.] LEO X. 157 

poets, comedians, and artificers in silver and gold. The 
recovery of an antique statue, the colouring of a modern 
Madonna, the performance of a new drama, or comedy, or 
piece of music 3 any object of vert u, any appliance of art, pro- 
digiously interested the polite and voluptuous pontiff. The 
Vatican was the scene of continual feasting : delicate viands, 
sparkling wines, handsome women, witty men — talk about 
some mosaic recently dug up from an old Roman villa, or of 
a lost book of Livy happily found in the shelves of an ancient 
monastery 1 — amusements in which indecency appeared dis- 
guised in a thin but always most graceful drapery, dreamily 
filled up the days and nights of those who enjoyed the Pope's 
hospitality. But all this could not be done for nought. If a 
sumptuous board was to be daily spread, if artists were to be 
patronized, and their productions purchased, if largesses were 
to be given to the people, and costly spectacles exhibited for 
their diversion, money must be obtained. Golden ducats 
alone could do this. 

Prior to this period, Rome had made a belief in purgatory 
a part of its creed. In the burning abyss of that middle estate 
must the dead expiate the sins which they had not expiated 
on earth ; and the living were led by monkish orators to con- 
template their departed relatives as writhing for centuries in 
quenchless flames before their final admission to heaven, and 
to look forward themselves to the same fiery refining process. 
But their case was not hopeless. Indulgences had been in- 
vented ; and the man who was in possession of one of these 
might confidently calculate upon exemption from purgatorial 
fires. For a few florins, a man might escape centuries of 
torment. For a few florins more, he might secure the deliver- 
ance of some one, now dead, once dear to him as his own life. 
If a scoundrel had been guilty of polygamy, six ducats would 
save him ; if he had committed murder, he must pay eight ; 
if he had contracted the greatest of all sins, sacrilege, nine 
would shut the gates of hell, and throw wide open the doors 
of paradise. 2 Such doctrines must have been most comfort- 

1 In a letter dated November 151 7, Leo requires from his Commissioners 
of Indulgences 147 gold ducats, to pay for a manuscript of the 33d Book 
of Livy. 

2 For special sins Tetzel had a special scale. Polygamy cost six ducats, 
sacrilege nine, murder eight, witchcraft two. Samson, who carried on 
the same traffic in Switzerland as Tetzel in Germany, had a different 
scale. He charged for infanticide four livres tournois ; for a parricide or 
fratricide, one ducat. 


ing to the people ; and if comforting to the people, they were 
most profitable to the Church. Besides the ordinary traffic in 
indulgences, several pontiffs, when pressed for money, had 
published a general sale, and instantly their coffers were filled. 
To what better device could the prodigal Leo resort? What 
better pretext for the need of money could pontiff have ? 
Michael Angelo had conceived the mighty dome of St Peter's. 
The greatest of Christian temples was begun \ but the work 
languished for want of means. The bones of the blessed 
apostles Peter and Paul were exposed to the rains of heaven : 
what more Christian enterprise than to help and hasten its 
completion ? A bull was accordingly published, proclaiming a 
general indulgence, the product of which was to be appro- 
priated to the building of St Peter's. The lucrative trade was 
farmed out to a contractor. Tetzel appeared in Germany, 
hawking his spiritual wares. " Draw near," cried he, " and I 
will give you letters, duly sealed, by which even the sins you 
shall hereafter desire to commit shall be all forgiven you. 
There is no sin so great that the indulgence cannot remit it ; 
and even if any one should (which is doubtless impossible) 
ravish the Holy Virgin Mother of God, let him pay — let him 
only pay largely, and it shall be forgiven him. But more than 
all this, indulgences save not the living alone — they also save 
the dead. The very moment that the money clinks against 
the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from purgatory and 
flies free to heaven." 1 Luther could stand this no longer: he 
nailed his theses to the church-door at Wittemberg, and the 
Reformation was begun. 

The Reformation, thus begun in Saxony, spread rapidly over 
all Germany, and soon began to affect the other countries of 
Europe. At first it was purely a religious reformation, but it 
contained within its bosom the germ of great changes, both in 
the social and political world. The contempt of authority, and 
the spirit of inquiry which it engendered, gave a new impulse 
to thought. The duties it inculcated, and the doctrines it 
taught, awoke a thousand feelings which had long lain dormant 
in the mind, and roused them to action. Christianity was no 
longer a matter of form. It was no longer confined to the 
priesthood : it extended alike to the noble, the burgher, and 
the peasant. Hitherto shut up in the cloister, or displayed as 

1 D'Aubigne's Hist., vol. i. p. 263. The historian states in a note that 
Tetzel publicly maintained the second of these propositions in his anti- 

a.d. 1513.] CONTEST FOR ST ANDREWS. 1 59 

a pageant in the cathedral, its holy influences were unfelt by the 
great mass of the people ; but now it became a subject of 
serious thought and earnest discussion to all. A spirit of new 
life was breathed over society. The religious feelings of our 
nature put on their native strength, and eagerly enlisted either 
on the side of the Reformation or the Papacy. A great 
struggle was begun. The din of battle everywhere resounded. 
The confused noise came booming over the German Ocean, 
and was distinctly heard on the shores of Scotland. 

But we must revert to our insular history, and 
' '"^ trace the events which preceded the Refor- 
mation at home. The battle of Flodden subjected our country 
once more to the distractions of a long minority. The king, 
thirteen earls, an archbishop, two bishops, and many others of 
name and note, lay dead on the fatal field. The infant 
monarch was however solemnly crowned, 1 and the regency of 
the kingdom committed to the queen-mother, the sister of 
Henry VIII., a woman still in the flower of youth, possessed 
of great beauty, spirit, and ability, but subject, like her brother, 
to violent passions, and not more careful of decency in matters 
affecting marriage and divorce. With indecorous haste she 
threw off her royal weeds, and wedded the Earl of Angus, a 
handsome but impetuous young man, by which she forfeited 
the regency, and the Duke of Albany, at that time residing in 
France, was recalled to take the government of the kingdom. 
The consequence was, a bitter and very natural hostility sprung 
up between Queen Margaret and the Duke, who had sup- 
planted her in the government ; and the nobility began to 
divide themselves into two factions — the English and the 
French — and for the next fifty years we find these factions thus 
formed contending for the chief direction of affairs. 

The archiepiscopal chair of St Andrews was next in dignity 
to the royal throne, and it also was made vacant by the 
slaughter of Flodden. Three powerful competitors appeared 
in the field. The first of these was the celebrated Gawin 
Douglas, son of Archibald Douglas, Bell-the-Cat, uncle of the 
Earl of Angus, who had married the queen, and known to some 
as the translator of the /Eneid of Virgil into the Scotch verna- 
cular. He was presented by Margaret, and his literary merits 

1 Buchanan, Lesley, Lindsay, and Balfour say the coronation took place 
at Stirling ; but Pinkerton, on the evidence of an original letter (Dacreto 
the Bishop of Durham, 29th October 1 51 3), makes it take place at Scone, 
and him Tytler follows. 


made him worthy of the honour, but despite his poetry he was 
a factious and intriguing man. The second was John Hepburn, 
Prior of St Andrews. He managed to get himself elected by 
the chapter. The third was Andrew Forman, Bishop of 
Moray, and legate a latere, who had procured a papal bull 
nominating him to the vacant See. There were thus, in this 
instance, the three modes of nomination which then existed, 
and which frequently conflicted — that by the pope, by the 
king, and by the canons of the cathedral church. The 
adherents of Douglas seized upon the castle. Hepburn col- 
lected his followers and attacked them, and having carried the 
fortress by storm, he strongly garrisoned it. Foiled at this 
point, Douglas retired from the contest. Forman for a while 
could find no one sufficiently bold to publish his bull. At 
length he bribed Lord Home, by bestowing upon his brother 
the vacant priory of Coldingham. Accordingly Home pro- 
ceeded to Edinburgh with ten thousand men, and there pro- 
claimed the bull in favour of Forman. He next marched 
towards St Andrews, in order to intimate what had been done, 
and to give the bishop institution and full possession of his 
benefice. But Hepburn again rallied his adherents, manned 
both the cathedral and the castle, planted artillery around 
them, and made such a formidable show of resistance, that 
Forman felt it would be better to resort to other means than 
force to get possession of his archbishopric. 1 The ecclesiastical 
feud was finally settled by the Duke of Albany on his arrival 
in the country. He confirmed Forman in the archbishopric, 
and bestowed upon his rival enough of beneficiary spoil to 
allay his disappointment and chagrin. 

These tumults were quickly followed by 
a.d. 1520. ano t] ierj i n which we find some of the same actors 
engaged. A deadly animosity existed between the houses of 
Angus and Arran. During the sitting of the Estates the 
adherents of both had mustered in considerable numbers in 
Edinburgh, and an outbreak was apprehended. The Hamil- 
tons had met in the church of the Black Friars to concert their 
measures. Gawin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, ventured 
amongst them as a peacemaker, and, addressing himself chiefly 
to Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, remonstrated with him 
against the hostilities which were too evidently intended. 
Beaton struck his hand upon his breast, and declared he could 
not help it ; but a coat of mail, concealed beneath his linen 

1 Lindsay, p. 123. 


rochet, gave forth a metallic and suspicious sound. " Ah, my 
lord," said Douglas, " I perceive your conscience clatters. " 
The mediation of the Bishop of Dunkeld was fruitless ; a hasty 
attack was made by the retainers of the Hamiltons upon the 
borderers who owned Angus for their chief, and who were now 
drawn up in the High Street from the castle to St Giles. It 
was speedily and decisively repulsed ; Lord Montgomery and 
Sir Patrick Hamilton were among the slain ; the Earl of Arran 
was forced to flee the city, and the Archbishop of Glasgow to 
take refuge behind the high altar of the Dominican church, 
where he would have been sacrilegiously slain had not Gawin 
Douglas generously interfered. This armed encounter is known 
in history by the name of " cleansing the causeway." 1 

The political history of this period is full of strange and 
sudden transitions. Albany was more a Frenchman than a 
Scot, and soon made himself enemies, though historians are 
yet divided in regard to his administration. The queen- 
mother thought him imperious, and this her proud spirit could 
not brook. Deprived of the care of her royal infant, she fled 
to England, where she was brought to bed of a daughter to 
Angus. Not long afterwards Albany sailed for France, where 
his heart always was ; and he was not well gone till Margaret 
returned. Completely estranged from her husband, whose 
fidelity was questioned, she could not now bide his presence, 
and already began to speak of a divorce. Imagining herself, 
at the same time, neglected by her brother, she turned her 
eyes towards France, and by a letter in her own hand invited 
Albany to return and resume the government of the kingdom. 
He came, landed in Lennox, and the queen hurried to Lin- 
lithgow to meet and welcome him. Rumour now began to 
speak of an intimacy too tender to be merely political, and 
Henry believed the report, and wrote his sister sharp letters of 
reproof. 2 Amid the fluctuations of parties, she afterwards 
affected a reconciliation with her husband, but it was only to 
part from him in greater anger and disgust, and finally to pro- 
cure a divorce. At liberty to marry again, she took to her 
royal couch a young man, the son of Lord Avondale, and 
afterwards created Lord Methven. This indecent conduct 
lowered her influence ; Albany had bid Scotland farewell ; and 
Angus for a time got into his hands the chief management of 
affairs, although the king, now thirteen years of age, had 

1 Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 181. Tytler, vol. v. 
- Pinkerton, vol. ii. books xii. , xVn. 


nominally assumed the government. The troubles which these 
things implied were industriously augmented by English gold 
and English spies, for Henry and Wolsey had already begun 
the system which was afterwards brought to perfection by 
Elizabeth and Burleigh. 

Gawin Douglas was deeply involved in most of the transac- 
tions to which we have referred. At first a keen ally of the 
queen, when she quarrelled with her husband he became her 
bitterest enemy. Proceeding to England, he sunk into a 
political intriguer, propagated slanders against his royal relative 
and Albany, and even advised the invasion of his country to 
remove them from power. As one might expect, Scotland 
became too hot for him ; the romantic valley of the Tay and 
the hills of Dunkeld did not afford him a safe asylum, and he 
was obliged to take up his residence in London, where he 
died. His translation of the " ^Eneid " into Scotch verse, and 
his other poetical works, have kept alive his name, when 
his intrigues are almost forgotten. All allow him to have 
been a man of singular learning and fine wit, and we must 
ever admire him as among the first who made our wild un- 
tutored mother-tongue to How in the soft, measured cadences 
of verse. 

During these political troubles Lutheran opinions were 
slowly finding their way into the country, and among other 
converts was one who held high office in the Church. Patrick 
Hamilton was the son of Sir Patrick Hamilton of Kincavil, 
and Catherine Stewart, a daughter of the Duke of Albany. 
The date and place of his birth are unknown ; but when yet a 
boy, according to the custom of the time, he was made Abbot 
of Eerne. Destined for the Church, he required such an edu- 
cation as would suit him for his profession ; and accordingly, 
about the year 15 17, he left Scotland, to pursue a course of 
philosophy in the University of Paris; and in 1520 he 
acquired his degree of Master of Arts. In 1523 he returned 
to his native country, and entered himself in St Andrews Uni- 
versity, where he continued to pursue his studies under the 
celebrated John Mair, the master of Buchanan and of Knox. 
Distinguished by a passion for music, he was appointed pre- 
centor of the choir of St Leonards, and is said to have com- 
posed "what the musicians call a mass arranged in parts for 
nine voices, in honour of the angels, intended for that office in 
the missal which begins ' Benedicaut Dominum Aiigeli Ejus! " l 

1 Alcsius : quoted in Memoirs of Patrick Hamilton, by Rev. Peter 

A.D. 1527-8.] MARTYRDOM OF HAMILTON. 1 63 

But while at Paris he seems to have imbibed the free senti- 
ments of Erasmus and Reuchlin, and he must have heard at 
least of the theses of Luther. He consequently fell under 
the suspicion of heresy, and inquisition was made into his 
opinions. Thus threatened he again left Scotland, and went 
to Germany, where the human mind was now in open mutiny 
against papal authority. Prevented from going to Wittemberg 
by the plague, he turned aside to the little university town of 
Marburg, where he remained for a time, and was confirmed in 
the doctrines of the Reformation. Francis Lambert, who 
taught there, took an affectionate interest in the young Scots- 
man, and had a powerful influence in moulding his mind. 

In 1^27 he was in Scotland once more, not 

A D I n 2 7 01 m 7 

ashamed of the opinions he had embraced. 
Archbishop James Beaton had been transferred from Glasgow 
to St Andrews, and had recently made peace with the party 
of Angus, now at the head of affairs. He had the power, if 
he had the will, to put Hamilton to death ; and Beaton was 
too zealous a churchman to let Lutheranism escape with im- 
punity, but it is more than probable that theological intoler- 
ance was inflamed by the feud which existed between the 
houses of Angus and Arran. Hamilton was brought to St 
Andrews, and tried before a bench of bishops and other eccle- 
siastical dignitaries. In the sentence pronounced against him 
the judges declare, — "We have found the same Air Patrick 
Hamilton many ways infected with heresy, disputing, holding, 
and maintaining divers heresies of Martin Luther and his fol 
lowers, repugnant to our faith, and which are already con- 
demned by general councils, and most famous universities. 
And he, being under the same infamy, . . . passed to 
other parts furth of the realm, suspected and noted of heresy ; 
and, being lately returned, not being admitted, but of his own 
head, without license or privilege, hath presumed to preach 
wicked heresy.'' " All these premises being considered, we, 
having God and the integrity of our faith before our eyes, do 
pronounce, determine, and declare the said Mr Patrick Hamil- 
ton, for his affirming, confessing, and declaring the aforesaid 
heresies, and his pertinacity, to be an heretic, and to have an 
evil opinion of the faith, and therefore to be condemned and 
punished, likeas we condemn and define him to be punished 
by this our sentence definitive, depriving him, and sentencing 
him to be deprived, of all dignities, honours, orders, offices, 
and benefices of the Church; and therefore do judge him to 


be delivered over unto the secular power to be punished, and 
his goods confiscate." l 

8 On the last day of February 1528 a stake 

was fixed in the ground in the centre of the 
large area before the gate of St Salvator's College. Around 
it fagots of wood were piled high. At noon the young and 
noble confessor left his prison for the place of execution. He 
was accompanied by his servant and two or three faithful 
friends, and carried in his hand a copy of the Evangel. Being 
come to the place, he gave the volume he so much loved to 
a friend; and, taking off his gown, he gave it with some other 
apparel to his servant, remarking, " This stuff will not help me 
in the fire, yet will do thee some good. I have no more to 
leave thee but the ensample of my death, which I pray thee 
keep in mind. For albeit the same be bitter, and painful in 
man's judgment, yet is it the entrance to everlasting life, 
which none can inherit who deny Christ." 2 By the ignorance 
and awkwardness of his executioners, his torments were pro- 
tracted for nearly six hours. It was six o'clock in the evening 
before his body was reduced to ashes. " But during all that 
time," says Alexander Alane, who had witnessed the whole 
scene with profound emotion, " the martyr never gave one 
sign of impatience or anger, nor ever called to Heaven for ven- 
geance upon his persecutors, so great was his faith, so strong 
his confidence in God." 3 His last words that were heard were, 
" How long, Lord, shall darkness cover this kingdom ? How 
long wilt Thou suffer this tyranny of men? Lord Jesus, 
receive my spirit ! " 

So died Patrick Hamilton, the proto- martyr of the Lutheran 
Reformation. It was strange that the theses of Luther, posted 
upon the door of the church at Wittemberg in 15 17, should 
so soon have been burnt with fire into the gates of St Salva- 
tor's College at St Andrews. No nobler or gentler spirit ever 
passed through great tribulation into the kingdom of God. 
His youth, his accomplishments, his many virtues, excited uni- 
versal pity ; and it was afterwards said, that the smoke of the 
flames, in which he had been consumed, infected all that they 
blew upon. Very recently there was discovered in the 
accounts of the Lord Treasurer, under the year 1543, the 
name of an Isobel Hamilton, one of the ladies in attendance 

1 The sentence is found at length in the Appendix to Keith's History. 

2 S pot tis wood, lib. ii. 

3 Quoted in Lorimer's Memoirs of Hamilton, p. 155. 

...D. 1532.] THE COLLEGE OF JUSTICE. 1 65 

on the court of the Regent Arran, and described as " daughter 
of umquhil Patrick Hamilton, Abbot of Feme." It was in- 
stantly suspected that the martyr's virtue had not been imma- 
culate ; but Alesius tells us, in a tract till lately unknown, that 
immediately after his return from Germany he had married a 
lady of noble birth, and thus, like Luther, had openly and 
irretrievably broken with Rome. 1 It has indeed been ques- 
tioned if he ever was a priest, for it does not appear he was 
more than Commendator Abbot of Feme. If he was a priest 
and married, his marriage must have been clandestine, as other- 
wise it would certainly have been made a chief charge against 
him. 2 

Three months after the execution of Hamilton, James con- 
trived to escape from the Douglases, gathered the nobility 
around him, and being now in his seventeenth year, and 
possessed of wisdom and firmness above his age, took the 
government upon his own shoulders. His hatred of Angus 
and all his relatives, who had kept him so long in virtual 
captivity, was deep and incurable. He could never be 
brought to forgive them. He confiscated their estates, and 
drave them from the kingdom. We need not wonder that 
they were the objects of his aversion and dread. They 
undoubtedly sowed the seeds of many of the evils which bore 
such bitter fruit during his reign. Though carefully watch- 
ing his movements, in order to prevent his slipping out of 
their hands, they had ruinously indulged him, neglected his 
education, and encouraged his early inclination to gallantry, 
and thus fostered the vices which afterwards contaminated his 
character and hastened his end. The fear of his barons, thus 
early inspired, made him throw himself more completely upon 
the support of his clergy ; while alarm at the intrigues of the 
English court, which had long kept the kingdom in perpetual 
agitation, led him to suspect and avoid all the overtures of 

We do not require to wander far out of our 

AD I ^ s2 ... 

DJ ' way to record the institution, m 1532, of the 
College of Justice, the first great step in our country toward 

1 Lorimer's Memoirs, p. 124. Also Appendix to Laing's edition of 
Knox's works. 

2 The statement in his sentence, "not being admitted, but of his own 
head, without license or privilege, hath presumed to preach wicked 
heresy," seems to prove he was not in priest's orders. Then, there is no 
mention of his being degraded before he was burned, as would have been 
the case had he been a priest. 

1 66 CHURCH HISTORY OF SCOTLAND. [chap. viii. 

the equitable administration of the law. The idea is said to 
have been taken from the parliament of Paris. It was to 
consist of fifteen members, eight of whom, including the 
president, were to belong to the ecclesiastical order. Ten 
advocates were appointed to conduct the pleadings before it ; 
the clerks of the signet were ordered to be sworn, and every- 
thing down to the appointment of macers was minutely pro- 
vided for. The expenses of the court were to be defrayed 
out of the revenues of the clergy, who, deeming the honour 
done to their order to be no compensation for the injury 
inflicted on their property, remonstrated against the exaction, 
but in vain. There can be no doubt but that the constitution 
of the college is a testimony to the superior learning and abili- 
ties of the ecclesiastics. 

It was about the same time that Antonio Campeggio 
visited Scotland, as papal legate, to confirm James in his 
attachment to the ancient faith. He brought him from the 
Pope a consecrated cap and sword ; addressed him as 
" Defender of the Faith, " a title which his uncle Henry of 
England was held to have forfeited, and granted him a tithe 
of all ecclesiastical benefices in the kingdom for three years — 
a most acceptable present to a profuse prince. 1 

Meanwhile the doctrines of the Reformation were making 
rapid progress in Scotland. The Lollards had not been 
extirpated, — some of them still remained, ancient witnesses of 
the truth. Men were passing to and fro betwixt our island 
and the Continent, and ever bringing fresh tidings of the pro- 
gress of Protestantism. Vessels were arriving at Aberdeen, 
Montrose, Dundee, and Leith, and stealthily discharging 
packages of Tyndale's English New Testament, and the 
pamphlets and sermons of the Reformers. 2 These stirred up 
the people like a trumpet-blast ; they began to scent the 
battle from afar. Poets were not afraid to lampoon the idle 
monks and friars ; wits perpetrated jokes at the expense of 
the voluptuous bishops ; and even the rustics, when they met 
at the ale-house, told scandalous stories about the parish priest 
— some concubine he kept, or some good-looking woman he 
had inveigled at confession. 3 But there were earnest-minded 
men in the Church who perceived that a reformation was 

1 Tytler, vol. v. 

2 Among other proofs of this importation of books, we have an Act of the 
Scotch Parliament declaring it penal. 

b Dunbar and Lyndsay's poems give ample proof of this. 

A.D. 1533-38.] MARTYRS AND CONFESSORS. 1 67 

needed ; there were honest hearts beneath the monkish gown, 
which could not stifle their feelings. In Scotland, as in 
Germany, the Reformation began among the clergy themselves. 
Almost all our first martyrs and confessors were monks or 
parish priests. 

The flames in which the Abbot of Feme was consumed 
had scarcely died out among his ashes, when Alexander 
Seaton, a Dominican friar, and confessor to the king, began 
to preach the necessity of keeping the commandments, and 
of looking to Christ as the end and perfection of the law. He 
was called to task for his sentiments, and glad to save his life 
by fleeing to England. At Berwick he wrote a letter to 
James pointing out the subordination of the ecclesiastical to 
the civil power, and urging his Majesty, in respectful terms, 
to put an end to the oppression of the clergy. But the king 
did not interfere to save him, and so he was compelled to 
remain in exile. 1 

It was not to be expected that a Church, backed by the 
influence of the King, proud of a venerable antiquity, and 
ignorant of the duty of toleration, would allow opinions 
destructive of its power, its privileges, and its very existence, 
to grow up in its bosom without a struggle to crush them. 
We think it needless to relate minutely the story of every 
martyrdom and of every martyr. It is everywhere and at all 
times the same sad tale. Henry Forest, a young Benedictine 
monk, was burnt at St Andrews in 1533. In the year follow- 
ing, Norman Gourlay, a priest, and David Straiton, a gentle- 
man of respectable family, were hanged and burned at the 
rood of Greenside, " according," says Knox, " to the mercy 
of the papistical Church." 2 Numbers were arraigned, but 
their faith failed, and they recanted. Others of whom the 
country was not worthy, fled, and transferred their allegiance 
and learned labours to other lands. Among these were Alex- 
ander Alesius, who became Professor of Divinity at Leipsic, 
and the friend of Melancthon ; and John Machabaeus, who 
rose to high favour with Christiern, King of Denmark, and 
was honoured to be one of the translators of the Bible into 
the Danish tongue. 

In July 1538, the parliament met, and, amongst 

d3 * other things, passed a law, which is indicative at 

once of the progress the reformed doctrines were making, and 

of the disposition of the government toward them. This act, 

1 Knox's History, book i. - Ibid. 


after referring to an act passed in the year 1525, against the 
" damnable opinions of the great heretic Luther," proceeds — ■ 
" Our said Sovereign Lord, for the zeal and love his High- 
ness bears to the Christian faith and the Holy Kirk, ordains 
and statutes the said act anew. Likewise, it is statute and 
ordained, that forasmuch as the damnable opinions of heresy 
are spread in diverse countries by the heretic Luther and his 
disciples, and this realm, and the lieges thereof, has firmly 
persisted in the holy faith, since the same was first received 
by them, and never as yet admitted any opinions contrary to 
the Christian faith, but ever has been clean of all such filth 
and vice ; therefore, that no manner of person, stranger, that 
happens to arrive with their ship within any part of this realm, 
bring with them any books or works of the said Luther, his 
disciples or servants, disputes or rehearses his heresies or 
opinions, unless it be to the confusion thereof, and that by 
clerks in the schools, under the pain of escheating their ships 
and goods, and putting of their persons in prison." It is 
farther provided — " That none have, use, keep, or conceal any 
books of the said heretics, or countenance their doctrine and 
opinions, but that they deliver the same to their ordinaries 
within forty days." 1 

Meanwhile Henry VIII. had revolted against Rome. When 
the Reformation first broke out he had entered the lists against 
Luther, and published a treatise on the seven sacraments, in 
answer to a book which had been published by the reformer 
on the Babylonish captivity. The royal production was pre- 
sented to the Pope in full consistory ; His Holiness spoke of 
it as the result of inspiration, and bestowed upon its author the 
title of Defender of the Faith. But passion will sometimes 
interfere with faith ; and in despotic governments the caprices 
of an individual may overturn the religion of a whole people. 
The Defender of the Faith had grown weary of Catherine of 
Arragon ; he pretended scruples of conscience about having 
her to wife, because she had been the wife of his deceased 
brother, and craved a divorce from the Pope ; but the Pope, 
fearful of offending her nephew the Emperor Charles V., was 
not so compliant as he might have been to so orthodox a king. 
Without refusing the royal request, he staved it off upon 
various pretences ; and Henry got impatient, for he had seen 
and loved Anne Boleyn. In these circumstances Cranmer 
proposed to solve the difficulty, by getting the opinions of the 
1 Keith's History, book i. chap. i. Acts of the Scottish Parliament. 


most famous universities in regard to the legitimacy of his 
marriage, and, if these should prove unfavourable to it, to have 
a divorce pronounced by his own clergy. Henry swore that 
Cranmer had the right sow by the ear. The thing was done ; 
the opinions were unfavourable ; and the divorce was pro- 
nounced by Cranmer himself, who had now been raised to the 
See of Canterbury. Excommunicated by the Court of Rome, 
Henry was declared by his own parliament the only supreme 
head of the Church of England upon earth ; and the papal 
supremacy was for ever at an end. The Rubicon being thus 
crossed, monasteries were suppressed, and their enormous 
revenues appropriated by the monarch, or bestowed upon his 
courtiers, and the people flattered with the notion that hence- 
forward they would require to pay no more taxes. But though 
the English monarch had thus abolished the Roman jurisdic- 
tion within his realm, he had no intention of reforming the 
Romish ritual or the Romish creed. " The scheme," says 
Macaulay, " was merely to transfer the full cup of sorceries 
from the Babylonian enchantress to other hands, spilling as 
little as possible by the way." 1 Accordingly, with the utmost 
impartiality, Henry struck off men's heads for maintaining the 
Pope's supremacy, or for denying the dogma of transubstantia- 
tion ; for owning the jurisdiction of Rome, or for denying her 
doctrines. Such was the beginning and the ending of Henry's 
reformation of religion in England. 

But the English monarch was most anxious to extend his 
reformation, such as it was, to the sister kingdom; and we find 
him labouring, with all the zeal of a new proselyte, to convert 
his nephew of Scotland to his faith. With this view he made 
a proposal of a marriage between James and his daughter, the 
Princess Mary, holding out to him the hope of succeeding to 
the English crown. He despatched his chaplain, Dr Barlow, 
Bishop-elect of St Davids, to the Scottish court to remove false 
impressions ; to present to the young monarch a book recently 
published, called " The Doctrine of a Christian Man ; " and, 
if permission were granted, to display his no-popery eloquence 
in the pulpit. James submitted the treatise to his ecclesiastics, 
who pronounced it full of heresy, and unfit for the royal eyes ; 
and Barlow wrote to Secretary Cromwell informing him that 
the king was surrounded " by the Pope's pestilent creatures 
and very limbs of the devil." 2 

1 Critical and Historical Essay?, vol. i. p. 131. 

2 Pinkerton, book xiv. Keith's History, book i. Tytler, vol. v. 

1 70 CHURCH HISTORY OF SCOTLAND. [chap. viii. 

Barlow was followed by Lord William Howard, who was in- 
structed to propose a conference at York between his master 
and James ; but though James at first consented to meet his 
uncle, he afterwards, through the influence of his clergy, made 
pretexts for delay, and the conference never took place. It 
would appear, however, that Henry's overtures had made some . 
impression on the king, for in May 1536 he advertises him 
" that he had sent to Rome to get impetrations for reformation 
of some enormities, and especially anent the ordering of great 
and many possessions and temporal lands, given to the kirk by 
our noble predecessors." l We need not wonder that the 
diplomatists both of London and Rome should thus anxiously 
be visiting Scotland. Its relative position to England made its 
movements of more than ordinary consequence. It was a 
strategical point in the field, which it was of the greatest im- 
portance for the Pope to retain and for Henry to carry. 

James wished for a wife, and his thoughts were fixed upon 
the daughters of France. Disdaining to entrust the courtship 
into the hands of diplomatists, he set sail for Dieppe, and 
having landed, hastened to Paris — a romantic knight-errant in 
search of a lady-love. He had no sooner seen than he loved 
Magdalene, the only daughter of Francis I., a beautiful girl of 
seventeen ; but her fragile figure and hectic complexion were 
already indicative of consumption and prophetic of death. 
Mutual affection would not listen to reason, and so their 
nuptials were celebrated with extraordinary pomp in the 
Church of Notre Dame. Refused a passage through England 
the royal pair were compelled to return to Scotland by sea ; 
and when the devoted girl landed at Leith she knelt down upon 
the beach, kissed the very sand, and solemnly thanked God for 
having brought her husband and herself safely through the sea 
to the land of her adoption. 2 But she came only to find a 
grave. In two months she was dead — a flower too tender for 
northern skies. James mourned her in death as he had loved 
her in life ; but, young and hopeful, he dried his tears, and 
before the days of his mourning were accomplished, he had 
sought and obtained the hand of Mary of Guise, the widow of 
the Duke of Longueville — a marriage which had the most 
important influence upon the future fortunes of the kingdom. 
On the last day of February 1539 a huge fire 
was blazing on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, 
and five miserable men were seen in the midst of it — suffering, 

1 Keith, book i. chap. ii. 2 Lindsay of Pitscottie, p. 159. 


yet rejoicing. They were Dean Thomas Forret, Vicar of 
Dollar, and a canon regular of the monastery of St Colm's, 
Inch ; Sir Duncan Simpson, a priest ; Keillor and Beveridge, 
black friars ; and Forrester, a notary in Stirling. They had 
been tried for heresy before a council held by Cardinal Beaton 
and William Chisholme, Bishop of Dunblane, and this was 
their end. Keillor, it would appear, had written one of those 
religious plays or mysteries, common at the period, in which 
Christ's passion was represented ; and this had been acted 
before the king and court at Stirling, upon the morning of a 
Cood Friday. But it was obvious that under the Scribes and 
Pharisees, who accomplished the condemnation of Christ, 
Keillor had painted the Churchmen of his day who were 
crucifying Christ afresh by persecuting his friends. 1 The 
satire had been too stinging to be easily forgotten or forgiven. 
The Vicar of Dollar had some time before incurred the sus- 
picion of Lutheranism by refusing to exact the corpse present 
— felt by the poor to be an intolerable grievance, and by 
preaching regularly on the Sundays. He was accordingly cited 
before Crichton, Bishop of Dunkeld, a prelate more given to 
hospitality than the study of theology, but evidently a kind- 
hearted and good-natured man. The conversation which 
passed between them is characteristic of the times, and there- 
fore we give it at length, as reported by Fox, the martyr- 

" I love you well," said the bishop, "and therefore I must 
give you my counsel how you shall rule and guide yourself. 
My dear Dean Thomas, I am told that you preach the epistle 
or gospel every Sunday to your parishioners, and that you 
take not the cow nor the uppermost cloth from your pa- 
rishioners, which is very prejudicial to the Churchmen, and 
therefore I would you took your cow and your uppermost 
cloth, as other Churchmen do, or else it is too much to preach 
every Sunday ; for in so doing you may make the people think 
that we should preach likewise. But it is enough for you, when 
you find any good epistle, or any good gospel, that setteth 
forth the liberty of the Holy Church, to preach that, and let 
the rest be." Forret answered, " My lord, I think that none 
of my parishioners will complain that I take not the cow nor 
the uppermost cloth, but will gladly give me the same, to- 
gether with any other thing that they have, and I will give and 
communicate with them any thing that I have; and so, my 

1 Knox's History, book i. 


lord, we agree right well, and there is no discord amongst us. 
And where your lordship saith, ' it is too much to preach 
every Sunday,' indeed I think it is too little, and also would 
wish that your lordship did the like." " Nay, nay, Dean 
Thomas," cried the bishop ; " let that be, for we are not 
ordained to preach." Then said Forret, " Where your lord- 
ship biddeth me preach when I find any good epistle or a good 
gospel, truly, my lord, I have read the New Testament and 
the Old, and all the epistles and gospels, and among them all 
I could never find an evil epistle or an evil gospel ; but if 
your lordship will show me the good epistle and the good 
gospel, then I shall preach the good and omit the evil." The 
bishop replied, " I thank God that I never knew what the Old 
and New Testament was ; therefore, Dean Thomas, I will 
know nothing but my portuise and pontifical. Go your way, 
and let be all these fantasies ; for if you persevere in these 
erroneous opinions, ye will repent when you may not mend 
it." 1 

In the same year there were burnt as heretics in Glasgow a 
grey friar named Russel, and a young man named Kennedy, 
who is said to have had a genius for poetry, and who had 
probably employed it in lampooning the clergy. It is re- 
ported that Archbishop Dunbar would willingly have saved 
them, but his coadjutors were inexorable. 2 

The panic caused by these burnings made many flee to 
England for safety. 3 George Buchanan had been acting as 
tutor to the Lord James Stewart, one of the king's illegitimate 
children, and had recently received a gown of Paris black lined 
with satin as mourning for the young queen ; but he had 
satirised the Franciscans, and was imprisoned in the Sea 
Tower of St Andrews. Happily, for the sake of literature, he 
escaped by his bedroom window and fled to France, 4 pro- 
bably with the connivance of the king. 

About the same time James Beaton, Archbishop of St 
Andrews, died, and the primacy passed into the hands of his 
nephew, David Beaton, already a cardinal, and Bishop of Mire- 
poix in France. He was a man of great talents, and still 
greater ambition, devoted heart and soul to the interests of 
the Church, and himself an embodiment, in many respects, at 
once of its virtues and its vices. He had already acquired a 

1 Martyrology, book viii. 2 Spottiswood, book ii. 

:i Letter of Duke of Norfolk, State Papers, vol. v. p. 155. 
4 Ikichanan's History, lib. xiv. Knox's History, book i. 


great influence over the mind of the king, and, for the re- 
mainder of his life, we may regard him as the main instigator 
of every public measure both ecclesiastical and political. He 
was scarcely installed till he convoked at St Andrews a meet- 
ing of the great barons and dignified clergy, and harangued 
them upon " the Church in danger," and followed up his 
oration by citing Sir John Borthwick to appear and answer to 
the charge of heresy ; but Sir John had wisely fled to Eng- 
land. He was declared guilty, and burned in effigy, first at 
St Andrews, and afterwards in Edinburgh; 1 but better to be 
burned ten times in similitude than once in reality. 

The year 1539 saw Charles V. and Francis I., who had so 
long wasted Europe by their wars, at peace with one another ; 
and Henry, alarmed lest a Catholic league might be formed 
against him, and James invited to join it, despatched Sir 
Ralph Sadler to the Scottish court, to try the effects of 
diplomacy. We may well regard this as an important era in 
our history, for Sadler soon began to exert a strong influence 
in Scottish affairs, and fortunately his letters and despatches 
have been preserved, and throw much light upon the state of 
parties and of public feeling at the time. Sadler's instructions 
were to persuade the Scottish monarch to break off from 
Rome, and seize upon the possessions of the abbeys and other 
religious houses ; to discover what he were likely to do in the 
event of a Catholic league being formed against England; and 
to bring Cardinal Beaton into suspicion with him by every 
means, but more especially by showing certain equivocal 
letters which the cardinal had addressed to his agent at Rome, 
and which had accidentally fallen into Henry's hands. Sadler 
was further instructed to renew the proposal of an interview 
between the two monarchs at York ; and to flatter the hopes 
of James succeeding to the English crown in the event of 
Prince Edward's death." 2 

Sadler's account of his mission is peculiarly interesting, from 
the gossiping way in which it communicates to us! grave 
matters of state, and the glimpses it gives us of life at Holy- 
rood three hundred years ago. He tells us that when he 
sought his first interview he was conducted to the chapel, 
where he saw the king at mass, kneeling under a cloth of state, 
with the cardinal, bishops, and nobles kneeling around him. 
The ambassador was led to a seat behind the place where the 

1 Knox's History, book i. Spottiswood, lib. ii. Keith. 

2 Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. Keith, book i. chap. ii. 


monarch was thus devoutly engaged. When the service was 
over, he was brought to the king, and instantly entered upon 
his business. He said he was sent by his royal master to 
assure his Majesty of his friendly feelings, and to offer for his 
acceptance a present of six geldings, which were on their way 
to Scotland by sea, and would arrive in the course of another 
day. James pleasantly received the gift, and declared that if 
there was anything in his kingdom which his uncle would like, 
it was quite at his service. Sadler next stated that he had 
some secret intelligence to communicate, and wished a secret 
conference, upon which the king fixed the next day before 

The next day came ; the English ambassador repaired to 
the palace, and was again taken to the chapel, where he had 
the benefit of a French sermon, to which the queen and her 
ladies were listening. He was then conducted to the privy- 
chamber, and the king took him to a window-recess, that they 
might there talk over matters together. Sadler, with many 
apologies, exacted a promise of secrecy from James, and then, 
with an air of mystery, began to tell him of a letter which had 
fallen into his master's hands, and which proved Beaton to be 
holding a treasonable correspondence with Rome. It was 
written by the Cardinal to Mr Andrew Oliphant, Vicar of 
Foulis, his agent at the papal court, and was on its way thither 
under the charge of Crichton of Brunston ; but the vessel 
which conveyed the letter and its bearer was shipwrecked on 
the English coast. It contained references to ecclesiastical 
affairs which Henry deemed very suspicious, and therefore 
had he, in his great solicitude for his nephew's welfare, com- 
municated it to him. Sadler says that while he was narrating 
all this, and explaining the contents of the letter, he narrowly 
watched the king, to see what effect it would have upon him. 
The result of his observation was — " Sometimes the king looked 
steadfastly at him with a grave countenance, sometimes he 
bit his lip, sometimes he bowed." When he was done, the 
king said, " There are two laws, the spiritual and the temporal. 
The administration of the one belongs to the Pope, and the 
administration of the other to myself. I shall see to the one, 
but must leave my clergy to manage the other." Sadler, 
somewhat disconcerted, offered to show the letter ; but the 
cardinal was all this while in the room, so the king whispered 
he would rather look at it some other time. 

Sadler now broached another subject. It had not yet be- 

A.D. 1540.] THE WAY TO BE RICH. I 75 

come fashionable for princes to keep model farms, and rear 
fat bullocks and prize rams. The ambassador therefore said 
that he was instructed to state to his Majesty, that his uncle 
of England had heard with deep concern that he " kept large 
flocks of sheep, and other such mean things," and that it 
would be much more royal if he would enrich himself with the 
plunder of the religious houses in the kingdom. " Then," 
said Sadler, " you will be able to live like a king, and not 
meddle with sheep." James declared that he had no sheep, 
but that the tacksmen of the royal demesnes might have. 
Alas, James ! you were either ignorant of your own flocks and 
herds, or you were ashamed to acknowledge the possession 
of " such mean things " to your august relative. But your 
treasurer's accounts have made it known to a still more august 
posterity, that at that very time you had numerous flocks 
grazing in the forests of Ettrick, and you need not have 
blushed to own it. 

But James was poor, and Henry knew it, and had suggested 
a way in which he might become passing rich. " I thank my 
uncle for his advice," said James, " but in good faith I cannot 
do so, for methinks it against reason and God's laws to put 
down these abbeys and religious houses, which have stood so 
long, and maintained God's service." " And what need have 
I to take of them to increase my livelihood ? " continued the 
monarch. " There is not an abbey in Scotland at this hour, 
but, if I asked anything, would give it." Sadler urged that 
the monks were an idle, unprofitable kind of people, and 
withal very unchaste. The king replied, " that a few might be 
bad, but it were a pity that for the sake of these all should be 
destroyed." Beat off on this point, the ambassador next 
referred to the league which it was rumoured his Majesty had 
entered into with France ; but the king laughed at this, and 
denied it utterly. Last of all, Sadler touched upon the con- 
ference which his master wished to have with his Majesty. 
James showed an evident disposition to waive this matter, and 
remarked, that if such a conference took place, he would like 
the King of France to be present at it. 

The next day was Sunday, and again the ambassador was 
sent for. He came to exhibit the geldings, which had now 
arrived; but, as before, he was first of all brought into the 
chapel, where the whole court was assembled. The service 
being done, the horses were mounted and put through their 
paces, and the barbary and jennet particularly praised. The 


master of the household now came and announced that dinner 
was ready, upon which the king went and washed, and then 
sat down, having told his lords to take the ambassador with 
them. At table, besides the king, there were the Cardinal, the 
Archbishop of Glasgow, the Earls of Huntly, Errol, Cassillis, 
and Athole, the Bishop of Aberdeen, Lord Erskine, and some 
others. After dinner, Sadler politely thanked the king for 
having so kindly entertained so poor a man as he was. The 
king now took an opportunity of telling him that he knew all 
about the letter to which he had referred : that Beaton had 
kept a duplicate of it, that he had seen it, and that it had 
created no suspicions of the cardinal's loyalty. Sadler, evi- 
dently amazed, suggested that his Majesty had better look at 
the original, which he had in his bosom. As the cardinal was 
in the room, and might be observing their movements, the 
king told him to take it out quietly, as if it were some other 
paper ; and then looking at it, he declared that it agreed word 
for word with the duplicate. It was hopeless to make any- 
thing of this, and so the ambassador, leaving it off, began to 
dilate upon the reformation which Henry had wrought at 
Christ Church, Canterbury, and upon the bad lives of the 
monks and friars ; but the king simply smiled, and said that 
if they did not live well, he would amend them, and then 
showed a disposition to change the subject. 1 

All this, and much more, Sadler communicates to Henry 
with great minuteness of detail ; but it was plain that the great 
object of his embassage had failed. 

In a parliament which was held in the month of March 
1541, a series of acts were passed which clearly indicate the 
determination of the king to root out heresy and maintain the 
established order of things. By one of these it was declared 
death to argue or impugn the Pope's authority. By another 
it was declared unlawful for any, except " theologians ap- 
proved by famous universities, or admitted thereto by those 
who have lawful power," to hold conventicles in order to 
dispute of the Holy Scriptures, or for any one to lodge any 
known heretic. By a third, it was enacted that no heretic 
who had abjured his heresy, and been received to penance 
and grace, should talk to others of the holy faith, under pain 
of being considered as relapsed. By a fourth, it was provided 
that if any one were suspected of heresy, and, after being 
summoned, fled from justice, he should be held as guilty, and 
proceeded against accordingly ; and that if any one should 
1 Sadler's State Papers and Letters, vol. i. 

A.D. 1541.] PENAL ACTS. 177 

receive him, assist him, or petition for his pardon, he should 
be held as a favourer of heresy. By a fifth, it was ordained 
that should any one reveal a congregation or conventicle 
where error was disseminated, he should, in the event of his 
being one of the heretical congregation himself, be acquitted 
and absolved ; and in the event of his not being so, he should 
be rewarded with a portion of the confiscated goods of the 
accused. 1 Such were the tyrannical acts by which it was at- 
tempted to prop up the papacy in our country when it was 
tottering to its fall. 

But it was felt at the same time that the Church might be 
better preserved by abolishing abuses than by burning people 
for talking of them. Accordingly, on the same day with these 
other acts, an act was passed for reforming of kirks and kirk- 
men. In this act it is set forth, that " because the negligence 
of divine service, the great unhonesty in the kirk, through not 
making of reparation to the honour of God Almighty, and to 
the blessed sacrament of the altar, the Virgin Mary, and all 
holy saints ; and also the unhonesty and misrule of kirk men. 
both in wit, knowledge, and manners, is the matter and cause 
that the kirk and kirkmen are lightly spoken of and contemned : 
for remede hereof, the King's Grace exhorts and prays openly 
all archbishops, bishops, ordinaries, and other prelates, and 
every kirkman in his own degree, to reform themselves, and all 
kirkmen under them, in habit and manners both to God and 
man," etc., etc. It is worthy of remark that this act does not 
conclude with denouncing death and confiscation of goods 
against all delinquent churchmen, but simply, " if any person 
will not obey nor obtemper to their superior, in that behalf the 
King's Grace shall find remede therefor at the Pope's Holiness, 
and such like against the said prelates if they be negligent." - 

These acts were hardly passed till Beaton, ever active, 
started on an embassage to Rome. His avowed object was to 
procure his appointment as papal legate to Scotland ; but it is 
supposed he had secret instructions to negotiate an alliance 
with the Emperor and the King of France for the invasion of 
Kngland and extirpation of heresy. The conjuncture was 
favourable, as Francis was now feasting and feting his former 
foe, and both were equally zealous for the Catholic Church ; 
but their old animosities were quickly renewed — Milan became 
once more a bone of contention, and the alliance, if ever con- 
templated, happily for Protestantism was never formed. 
1 Keith, book i. chap. i. 2 Ibid. 



Meanwhile Sadler proceeded a second time to Scotland, 
bent on the same errand as before, and with letters in which 
our monarch was admonished not to be as a brute or stock in 
the hands of the clergy. " The practices of prelates and 
clerks/' say the instructions, "be wondrous, and their jug- 
gling so crafty, that unless a man beware, and be as oculate 
as Argus, he may be lightly led by the nose, and bear the yoke, 
yea, and yet for blindness not to know what he doth." 1 This 
lecture, which was to be read by Sadler to James, lets us 
understand that Henry considered him as priest-ridden ; and 
perhaps he was ; but still it was not very courteous to say so 
in such homely phrase, notwithstanding the privilege of an 
uncle to say rude things to an orphan nephew. 

The position of James at this period was peculiar and em- 
barrassing. He was in need of money ; and there were two 
ways in which he could get it, and each of these had been 
urged upon him. He might confiscate the property of the 
Church, or of the heretical gentry and nobles. Again and 
again Henry urged upon him the former method ; Beaton and 
his clergy suggested the latter. The king pointed to his own 
example ; the cardinal drew out a list of three hundred and 
sixty persons of property who were suspected of heresy, and 
whose possessions, if confiscated, would amply satisfy all the 
requirements of royalty. It was for James to choose whether 
he would break with the nobility or the clergy, — whether he 
would enrich himself with secular or ecclesiastical plunder. 
There was as much principle, or want of principle, on the one 
side as the other. But, if rob the king must, whom should he 
rob ? The clergy had hitherto been his firmest friends ; it was 
in their wisdom he most trusted ; it was their talents he most 
employed ; it was to their masses he looked for the salvation 
of his soul. If they were rich, they were also liberal ; and 
they had already voluntarily assessed themselves in large sums 
for his support. Mary, his queen, was Catholic ; France, his 
ancient ally, was Catholic ; to spoil the Church he must break 
with them. Yet James was not blind to the vices of the 
clergy ; he gave his countenance to satires upon their idle and 
licentious lives; 2 he passed acts to reform them; 3 and he is 

1 Sadler's State Papers, &c, vol. i. 

2 Friar Keillor's "Mystery" and Sir David Lindsay's " Satyre of the 
Three Estatis " were performed in his presence; and Buchanan, at the 
king's special desire, wrote the stinging satire on the Franciscan friars, 
known as Franciscanus. 

3 Act, 14th March 1541, quoted above. 

A.D. 1542.] DEATH OF JAMES V. I 79 

said to have looked with a covetous eye upon their ample 
possessions, and to have meditated the appropriation of some 
of them. On the other hand, James had no great love for his 
nobility ; he had more than the Stewarts' hereditary dread of 
their turbulence and power ; and the faction of Angus had 
disturbed and distressed him all his life long. But to beggar 
nearly four hundred of them, because suspected of heresy, was 
a scheme too wild, too daring, too unprincipled for him. He 
is said to have driven from his presence the first proposer of 
the plan with mutterings about heading and hanging, but to 
have afterwards reverted to the thought, and that the terrible 
proscription-roll was found in his pocket after his death. 1 

We have not the same clear information in regard to Sadler's 
second mission which we have in regard to his first ; but it 
would appear that James had given a qualified promise that 
he would meet Henry at York during his intended progress 
to the north. Henry came to York, and remained there 
during six days ; but James did not appear. The clergy, it 
was thought, had prevailed upon him to remain at home ; and 
perhaps they advised wisely, for there were suspicions of a 
trap being laid to catch the Scotch king. James sent a courteous 
apology ; but Henry conceived himself slighted and insulted, 
and returned to London venting threatenings and curse? 
against the Scotch. War was the result ; the borders became 
the scene of bloodshed and pillage ; the old Duke of Norfolk 
marched into Scotland with a large army, but retired at the 
approach of winter, and in presence of the Scotch array. The 
king wished a pursuit, but the barons refused to follow him. 
and he left the army in deep disgust. The shameful rout of 
Sol way Moss soon followed. The high-spirited monarch could 
bear no more ; he shut himself up in Falkland Palace, and the 
violence of his grief soon induced a slow fever. None could 
" pluck from his heart the rooted sorrow." While rapidly 
sinking, intelligence was brought that his queen, who was at 
Linlithgow, had been delivered of a girl, afterwards the unfor- 
tunate Queen Mary. " It came with a lass, and it will go 
with a lass," said the broken-hearted monarch, and in seven 
days afterwards expired. 

The mysterious death of the king, free from all apparent 
disease, made many whisper he had been poisoned, or as 
Knox phrases it, that " of old ' his part was in the pot,' and 

1 Knox's History, book i. Sadler also mentions such a proscription- 
roll, vol. i. 


that the suspicion thereof caused him to be inhibited the 
queen's company. " The truth is, it was customary in those 
times to attribute every such death to false play, and chemical 
analysis could not yet either prove or disprove the popular 
rumours. Knox had no liking for Mary of Guise. " Howsoever 
the tidings liked her," said he, "she mended with as great 
expedition of that daughter as ever she did of any son she 
bore. The time of her purification was sooner than the Levi- 
tical law appoints ; but she was no Jew, and therefore in that 
she offended not." 1 

Cardinal Beaton lost no time in producing a document pur- 
porting to be the will of the deceased monarch, appointing 
him regent of the kingdom during the queen's minority, with 
a council, consisting of the Earls of Argyll, Huntly, and Moray, 
to assist him in the government ; and proclamation was made, 
accordingly, at the market-cross of Edinburgh. Instantly 
there were rumours afloat of a dead or dying man's hand 
being guided upon a blank paper, which was afterwards filled 
up by the cardinal himself. The circumstance was affirmed 
in high quarters, 2 and very generally believed ; but it was 
never proved, nor as much as judicially alleged against the 
cardinal, even when he was lying in prison, and his enemies 
very anxious to find judicial matter against him. In the 
absence of proof to the contrary, all the probabilities are in 
favour of the genuineness of the document. James was mor- 
bidly jealous of his barons ; after the mutiny of Fala Muir, 
and the rout of Solway, he had conceived toward them the 
most violent antipathy — it was the cause of his death. It was 
not likely he would commit the government of the kingdom to 
them. On the other hand, he trusted and venerated the 
clergy ; he had all along been ruled, perhaps overridden, by 
them ; on his death-bed, when all the powers of superstition 
could be brought to bear upon him, their ascendency would 
naturally be increased, and there was nothing more likely than 
that he should execute an instrument appointing his favourite 
Beaton regent of the kingdom. 

But if the king had faith in the cardinal, the nobles had 
not. They assembled, and ignoring all other pretensions, 
appointed the Earl of Arran, the next heir to the crown after 

1 Knox's History, book i. 

3 Sadler says that Arran assured him of this. (State Papers, vol. i. p. 

A.D. lf>43.] MARRIAGE PROJECT. l8l 

the infant Mary, to be regent. 1 He was a good-natured, 
somewhat feeble, and very changeable man. Successively a 
puppet in the hands of the opposite factions, he was trusted 
by neither. But, be this as it may, his elevation to the head 
of the government was considered a great triumph to the 
reformed opinions, as he was known to favour them, and had 
employed as his chaplains two Dominican friars, Thomas 
Williams and John Rough, who had acquired a reputation for 
their bold preaching against the errors and vices of the Estab- 
lished Church. 

Meanwhile the intelligence of James's death reached the 
court at London. Henry at once determined to renew his 
favourite project of uniting the two crowns by a marriage be- 
tween the infant queen and his son Prince Edward. The 
long-exiled Douglases set out on their journey to the north, 
bound by feeling and interest to the English king. The 
nobles who had been taken prisoners at the Solway, among 
whom were the Earls of Glencairn and Cassillis, and the 
Lords Maxwell, Somerville, Fleming, and Oliphant, were re- 
leased from captivity, on solemnly swearing that they would 
use their utmost efforts to obtain the consent of the Scotch 
Parliament to the marriage, and the instant delivery into 
Henry's hands of the royal child, and the principal fortresses 
of the kingdom. The first proposal was politic and wise — the 
truest patriot might have given his approval to it ; but the 
other two were so ignominious that no independent people 
could consent to them ; and it is too plain that the nobles 
had basely agreed to purchase their own liberty by surrender- 
ing the liberty of their country. 

Beaton was too able and dangerous a man to be allowed to 
be at large ; and the first act of Arran and his friends was to 
get him into their power. He was known to correspond with 
France : this was construed into treason ; the cry of a French 
invasion was raised ; and the cardinal was hurriedly seized and 
committed as a prisoner to Blackness Castle. But the Church 
was still strong; and a result followed which probably was not 
anticipated. The churches were everywhere closed ; no priest 
could be prevailed upon to say a mass, to christen an infant, or 
to read the service for the burial of the dead. It seemed as if 
the country had been placed under an interdict. Notwith- 
standing the prevalence of the reformed opinions, there can be 

1 His office and title of Governor were conferred by the first parliament 
that met. 


no doubt but that this bold stroke of the papal party must 
have produced a profound impression upon a people educated 
in the Romish creed, and not yet emancipated from its power. 1 

On the 1 2th March 1543, the Three Estates assembled at 
Edinburgh. They wisely agreed to the marriage of Mary to 
Prince Edward of England ; but like men who valued the 
freedom they had inherited, they resolved that their young 
queen should not pass into England till she was ten years of 
age, and that not one of their fortresses should be entrusted 
to Henry. 2 All the deliberations of the parliament on this sub- 
ject were characterised by prudence and patriotism ; and had 
it not been for the impetuosity of the English king, the union 
of the crowns would have been anticipated by more than half 
a century. 

On the 15th day of the month, being the third of the ses- 
sion, this parliament took the first step toward the reforma- 
tion of the church, by authorising the perusal of the sacred 
Scriptures in the vulgar tongue. It was Lord Maxwell who 
brought the matter before the Lords of the Articles, proposing 
that " it should be statute and ordained that it shall be lawful 
for all our sovereign lady's lieges to have the holy writ, to wit, 
the New Testament and Old, in the vulgar tongue, in English 
or Scotch, of a good and true translation, and that they shall 
incur no crime for the having and reading of the same," &c. 
Upon which the act proceeds — " The Lords of Articles being- 
advised with the said writing, find the same reasonable ; and 
therefore think that the same may be used among all the lieges 
of this realm, in our vulgar tongue, of a good, true, and just 
translation, because there was no law shown nor produced to the 
contrary ; and that none of our sovereign lady's lieges incur any 
crime for having or reading of the same in form as said is ; nor 
shall be accused therefore in time coming ; and that no person 
dispute, argue, or hold opinions of the same, under the said 
pains contained in the foresaid acts of parliament." 3 When this 
bill was brought before the Estates, the Archbishop of Glasgow 
protested, in his own name and of all the prelates who might 
adhere to him, against its being passed into a law " till a pro- 
vincial council should be held of all the clergy of the realm, to 

1 Tytler, vol. v. 

2 Keith's History, book i. chap iii. Tytler, vol. v. 

:i Acts of the Scottish Parliament, 15th March 1543. Keith's History, 
book i. chap. iv. 


advise and conclude if the same were necessary." 1 Notwith- 
standing the archbishop's protest, the bill was passed ; and in- 
structions given to the Clerk of Register to make proclamation 
of it at the market-cross. 

It will be observed that this act affirms that there was no 
law upon the statute-book against the reading of the Scriptures 
in the vulgar tongue, and therefore it is simply what would 
now be called a declaratory act. It did not confer the privi- 
lege ; it merely declared that it already existed by the law of 
the land. It is certain, however, that the clergy did not con- 
cede the lawfulness of every man perusing the Scriptures for 
himself, and to have done so prior to this period would have 
been construed into a crime. It is fair, however, to remark, 
that Archbishop Dunbar founds his protest not upon the 
wrongousness or illegality of the measure, but upon its 
Erastianism. He deprecates legislation in the parliament re- 
garding matters which could be properly dealt with only in the 
councils of the Church. Most people, however, will be of 
opinion, that it would have been long before a convocation of 
ecclesiastics would have passed such a law, and will receive 
this measure of Church reform not the less thankfully that it 
emanated from State legislation. 

The act, with singular inconsistency, while it allows all men 
to read the Bible, forbids them to form any opinion regarding 
it. It has been construed, however, as referring merely to 
opinions contrary to the authorised creed, and it has been said 
that even still, while all may read the Bible, they must read it 
according to the Church's Confession. Probably it was the 
fully-expressed opinion of the Anglican party in the parlia- 
ment ; for in England men were allowed to read the Bible, 
but if they there discovered anything opposed to the royal 
faith, the discovery cost them their head. The instant effect 
of the passing of the act is described by Knox, with all the 
freshness of one who lived at the time : — "Then," says he, 
" might have been seen the Bible lying almost upon every gen- 
tleman's table. The New Testament was borne about in many 
men's hands. We grant that some, alas ! profaned that blessed 
Word ; for some that perchance had never read ten sentences 
in it, had it most common in their hand ; they would chop 
their familiars on the cheek with it, and say, this hath lain 
under my bed feet these ten years. Others would glory, O 

1 Keith's History, book i. chap. iv. 


how oft have I been in danger for this book ! How secretly 
have I stolen from my wife at midnight to read upon it ! And 
this was done of many to make court and curry favours thereby ; 
for all men esteemed the governor to have been one of the 
most fervent Protestants that was in Europe." * 

The passing of this act was a great victory won by the Re- 
formers, but the next scene in the changeful drama is the Earl 
of Arran riding to Callander, meeting with Cardinal Beaton 
there, proceeding with him to Stirling, going to the Church of 
the Franciscan Convent, making confession, doing penance, 
getting absolution, received back into the bosom of the Holy 
Catholic Church. How the cardinal had been liberated from 
his prison no one could well explain. How the governor had 
thus suddenly changed his opinions was a greater mystery 
still. But people noted that shortly before this his illegitimate 
brother, John Hamilton, Abbot of Paisley, had returned from 
France, and they suspected that he had exercised that mes- 
meric influence which strong minds always have over weak ones. 
There was now no place found for John Rough and Thomas 
Williams. Their declamations against licentious monks, the 
idolatry of the mass, and the invocation of saints, had lost 
their savour, and they were glad to flee for their lives. A 
coalition-government was formed, and the vigour of its mea- 
sures soon showed that it was Beaton and not Arran who was 
its real head. 

Meanwhile, a fleet of Scottish merchantmen had taken re- 
fuge in an English harbour, and, depending on the treaty of 
peace between the two nations, were in no hurry to depart. 
With the grossest injustice, Henry ordered them to be seized, 
and their cargoes to be confiscated and sold. 2 The mercan- 
tile classes of Scotland, now rising into importance, were in- 
censed to the uttermost ; they mobbed the house of Sadler, 
and threatened his life. :j The spark was soon fanned into a 
flame, and the indignation was mutual. Disappointed at the 
conditions which the Scottish Parliament had annexed to the 
matrimonial alliance, Henry resolved to seek Mary for his son, 
with a sword in his hand — a bad way to woo a woman. War 
blazed forth, and the two countries were alternately ravaged. 
There was one new feature in these desolating campaigns. 
The Religious Houses, instead of being spared as hitherto, 
were the first to be given to the flames. The Protestants of 

1 Knox's Hist., book i. ~ Keith, hook i. chap. iii. 

3 Robertson's History of Scotland, vol. i. book ii. 


England esteemed it peculiarly meritorious to butcher a monk, 
or to burn a monastery. In one foray alone, conducted by 
the Earl of Hertford in 1545, no fewer than seven monasteries 
and other Religious Houses were destroyed. Kelso, Dry- 
burgh, Melrose, and Jedburgh were laid in ruins. 1 

Francis I. gave a cordial and effective support to Cardinal 
Beaton and his party ; the people were divided into the French 
and English factions ; and the contest became little better 
than a battle between France and England, fought upon 
Scottish ground. Henry was bent upon uniting Scotland to 
England, by obtaining possession of her queen and her for- 
tresses. Francis saw it to be his interest, if possible, to pre- 
vent this. The Protestants looked to Henry, the Papists to 
Francis. Beyond all question, Popery in this case was for 
the nonce allied with patriotism. The clergy saw this, and 
made the best use of it. From pulpits, formerly silent, they 
uttered fierce invectives against the truckling spirit that would 
sell country, birthright, liberty, religion, to a brutal king, the 
murderer of his wives, the desolator of their fairest provinces. 
They met at St Andrews, raised money among themselves to 
carry on the war, offered to melt down the church plate, and to 
take the field themselves, if need were, and fight for their hearths 
and their altars. 2 While this loyal spirit pervaded thePapal 
party, the Protestant nobles were pocketing pensions from the 
English king, and pledging themselves to unite their banners 
to his for the conquest of their fatherland. The Earl of Glen- 
cairn gets ^250 yearly; his son, Lord Kilmaurs, ^125. The 
Karl of Lennox gets a still more splendid bribe — the hand of 
the Lady Margaret Douglas, and considerable estates in Eng- 
land. 3 For this they sold their country and themselves. 

But we must revert to the triumphs and conflicts of Pro- 
testantism apart from State intrigues. The Earl of Arran, 
immediately after his apostasy, caused it to be " propounded 
in plane parliament/ "how there is great murmurs that heretics 
more and more rise and spread within the realm, sowing 
damnable opinions, contrary to the faith and laws of Holy 
Kirk ; " and gave exhortation to all prelates, each within his 

1 Haynes' State Papers. Original paper quoted by Robertson, Hist., 
vol. i. book ii. 

2 Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. p. 204. Tytler, vol. v. 

3 Keith's Hist., book i. chap. iii. A still more detailed account of the 
pensions received by the Scottish Protestant nobles will be found in Tytler's 


own diocese, to inquire after such heretics, intimating that 
he, as governor, would be ready at all times to do his duty. 1 
Thus armed with the whole political as well as ecclesiastical 
power of the kingdom, the cardinal resolved to strike terror 
into the Reformers by a signal example of severity. The fair city 
of Perth, laved by the waters of the Tay, had become noted 
for heresy. Thither Beaton made a progress, taking Arran 
along with him. A number of persons were cited before an 
ecclesiastical assize, and of these, six — five men and a woman 
— were condemned to die. Robert Lamb was charged with 
interrupting the preaching of a friar who was advocating the 
invocation of saints ; William Anderson, James Ronald, and 
James Finlayson were indicted for nailing two ram's horns to 
a St Francis's head, attaching a cow's rump to his tail, and 
eating a goose upon All-hallow evening ; James Hunter was 
charged with being art and part with them ; and Helen Stark, 
the wife of James Finlayson, was accused of refusing to pray 
to the Virgin when in labour. 2 The men were hanged, and 
the poor woman was drowned, being refused the small con- 
solation, which she earnestly desired, of dying in company with 
her husband. 

Before this terrible example was forgotten, the celebrated 
martyr George Wish art was brought to the stake. Wishart 
belonged to the family of Pittarrow, in the Mearns. We first 
hear of him teaching a school at Montrose, and exhibiting his 
enlightened scholarship by instructing his pupils in Greek. 
We next find him at Bristol, where he was accused of heresy, 
and more especially of denying the atonement, and for this he 
was condemned ; but he had not yet acquired the martyr's 
willingness to die, and so he publicly recanted, and burned his 
fagot in the church of St Nicolas. 3 This occurred in 1539, 
and in 1543 we find him at Cambridge, the interval having 
been spent in Germany and Switzerland. We have an inter- 
esting portraiture of him while there, given us by Emery 
Tylney, one of his pupils. " He was a man of tall stature, 
bald-headed, and on the same wore a round French cap ; 
judged to be of melancholy complexion by his physiognomy, 
black-haired, long-bearded, comely of personage, well-spoken 
after his country of Scotland, courteous, lowly, lovely, glad to 

1 Keith's History, book i. chap. iv. 

2 Spottiswood's History, book ii. Knox's Hist., book i. 

3 Tytler, vol. v. Mayor's Calendar — "That Christ nother hath nor 
could merit for him ne yet for us. 

a.d. 1543-46.] GEORGE WISHART. 187 

teach, desirous to learn, and was well travelled ; having on 
him, for his habit or clothing, never but a mantle or frieze 
gown to the shoes, a black millian fustian doublet and plain 
black hose, coarse new canvass for his shirts, and white falling 
bands and cuffs at his hands. All the which apparel he gave 
to the poor, some weekly, some monthly, some quarterly, as 
he liked, saving his French cap, which he kept the whole year 
of my being with him." l 

In July 1543 Wishart returned to Scotland in 
' I 543- the company of the commissioners who had 
gone to England to negotiate the marriage-treaty which was to 
unite the kingdoms. 2 He instantly began to preach the doc- 
trines of the Reformation. Montrose and Dundee listened to 
his eloquence. In the latter town the populace were so ex- 
cited by his invectives as to attack and destroy the convents 
of the Franciscan and Dominican Friars. The magistrates 
found themselves compelled to interfere, and Wishart was 
interdicted from preaching. Upon this, he retired to the 
western counties, ^where his friends were all-powerful. Lennox, 
Cassillis, and Glencairn were there able to defend him against 
all deadly.^and secure him an entrance into every parish church ; 
but to the honour of Wishart it must be told, that when any 
opposition was made to his preaching in the church, he re- 
fused to allow force to be used, and retired to the market- 
cross or the fields. He preached at Barr, Galston, Mauchline, 
and Ayr, generally surrounded by armed men. Hearing that 
the plague had broken out at Dundee, with great self-devoted- 
ness he hurried thither, and was unwearied in preaching the 
gospel, visiting the sick, and preparing the dying for death. 
While thus employed, he received a message from the Earl of 
Cassillis, that the gentlemen of the west wished him to meet 
them at Edinburgh, for the purpose of having a public dispu- 
tation with the bishop. He at once obeyed the summons, 
and proceeded southwards, but with the melancholy feeling 
of St Paul when he went " bound in the spirit to Jerusalem." 
He knew that Cardinal Beaton was bent upon his destruction, 
and he was haunted by the dread of a cruel death. But now 
he was prepared to meet it. :j 

On reaching Edinburgh, he found his friends had not 
arrived, and it was thought expedient he should remain con- 
cealed for a day or two. The truth is, men were afraid both. 

1 Quoted in Fox's Martyrology, book viii. sect. iv. 

2 Tytler, vol. v. 3 Knox's History, book i. Tytler, vol. v. 


for him and themselves. But Wishart could not bear this 
skulking from danger in so holy a cause, and preached at 
Leith i and afterwards, proceeding into East Lothian, he was 
entertained by the Lairds of Brunston, Longniddry, and 
Ormiston, who were all zealous reformers. While here, he 
preached at Musselburgh, Inveresk, Tranent, and Haddington. 
On these occasions he was surrounded by the armed retainers 
of his friends, and a two-handed sword was borne before 
him. It was here that John Knox, now in his fortieth year, 
attached himself to his party, and immediately obtained his 
confidential friendship. His office it was to bear the two- 
handed sword. 1 At Haddington the congregation was very 
small ; it was plain that men's faith was failing through fear ; 
and, conscious of his approaching doom, Wishart bid an 
affectionate farewell to his friends, and proceeded to Ormiston 
House. Knox would have accompanied him, but this Wishart 
would not allow. "Nay, return to your children,'' said he, 
"and God bless you. One is sufficient for a sacrifice." 2 

Meantime Cardinal Beaton had come to Edinburgh, and 
was there holding a synod for the correction of clerical abuses. 3 
Hearing that Wishart was in the neighbourhood preaching 
Lutheranism, and sheltered by men whom he knew to be his 
deadly enemies, he resolved upon his instant apprehension. 
At midnight Ormiston House was surrounded by a troop of 
cavalry, commanded by the Earl of Bothwell. Wishart sur- 
rendered himself upon a solemn assurance from Bothwell that 
he would not deliver him into the hands of the cardinal, but 
would protect him from all harm. The pledge was violated, 
and the captive hurried from Ormiston to Edinburgh, and from 
Edinburgh to St Andrews. A convocation of the dignified 
clergy was called ; Dunbar laid aside his ill-will to Beaton, 
and came ; it was the old story of Herod's reconciliation with 
Pilate before the victim was offered up. 4 Wishart's heresy was 
set forth in eighteen articles ; he was found guilty, and delivered 
to the secular power. 

On the ist of March 1546 a scaffold was 
5 ' erected in the open space before the Castle of 
St Andrews, and faggots of dried wood were piled around it. 
The guns of the castle were brought to bear upon the spot, 
lest a rescue should be attempted, as had been threatened in 
the case of Hamilton. There George Wishart died. It is 

1 Tytler, vol. v. M'Crie's Life of Knox, Period II. 

2 Knox's History, book i. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 

A.D. 1546.] MURDER OF BEATON. 189 

affirmed by some of our historians that Beaton, Dunbar, and 
other prelates beheld his sufferings from a balcony, and that 
the martyr from the midst of the flames, fixing his eyes upon 
the cardinal, said, " He who, in such state, from that high 
place, feedeth his eyes with my torments, within a few days 
shall be hanged out at the same window, to be seen with as 
much ignominy as he now leaneth there in pride." 1 

The death of Wishart produced a powerful impression all 
over Scotland. Some praised the cardinal for his seasonable 
severity ; but a much greater number commiserated the fate of 
one so modest, so eloquent, and so good. With these expres- 
sions of sorrow there were mingled mutterings about revenge ; 
men of birth were known to have declared at their table that 
there must be life for life. 2 And so it was. 

On the first of March Wishart was burned. On the even- 
ing of the 28th of May, Norman and John Leslie, Kirkaldy of 
Grange, and James Melville of Carnbee, with a few friends 
and followers, entered St Andrews in different parties, and 
took up their abode for the night at different hostelries to 
avoid causing suspicion. The cardinal was known to be in 
his castle, to which he had lately returned from the marriage 
of his illegitimate daughter with the eldest son of the Earl of 
Crawford. This fortalice was understood to be of great 
strength, and at that very time extensive additions were being- 
made to its means of defence. Situated on the rock-bound 
coast, and washed on three of its sides by the waves, it looked 
in one direction over the broad bay merging into the German 
Ocean, and on the other side commanded the town, with its 
cathedral, priory, and colleges. Early in the morning the 
drawbridge was lowered to admit the workmen who were 
employed on the fortifications, and Norman Leslie and three 
friends entered with them, and quietly inquired at the porter 
if the cardinal were astir. Kirkaldy of Grange and James 
Melville, with a few retainers, followed, without attracting 
notice ; but when John Leslie and four attendants w r ere seen 
approaching, the porter took alarm, and would have raised the 
bridge, but Leslie sprang forward, and in another instant the 
man was stabbed and thrown into the ditch. The workmen 
and servants were now led to the gate and dismissed, their 

1 This circumstance is narrated by Buchanan, and Lindsay of Pitscottie, 
and it also occurs in the modern editions of Knox's History ; but it is not 
found in the first edition, which has led some to doubt its genuineness. 

- Knox's History, book i. 


lives being threatened if they made the slightest noise ; and in 
this way the castle was cleared of a hundred and fifty persons 
by sixteen determined men. 

Meanwhile the cardinal was sleeping, but being awoke by 
the moving of men to and fro, he got up and inquired the 
cause. On being informed that the castle had been surprised 
and taken by the Leslies, he attempted to escape by a secret 
postern, but found it already secured ; he then retreated to his 
room, and with the assistance of his chamberlain barricaded 
the door; but when a threat of fire was used, he opened it, 
and gave admission to the conspirators. John Leslie and a 
man named Peter Carmichael at once rushed upon him and 
stabbed him with their swords. But James Melville, strangely 
characterised by Knox, when describing this scene, as a man 
of nature most gentle and most modest, interposed and said — 
"This work and judgment of God, although it be secret, yet 
ought to be done with greater gravity;" and then turning 
toward the unhappy cardinal die point of his sword, he said, 
" Repent thee of thy former wicked life, but especially of the 
shedding of the blood of that notable instrument of God, Mr 
George Wishart, which although the flame of fire consumed 
before men, yet cries it for vengeance upon thee, and we from 
God are sent to revenge it. For here, before my God, I pro- 
test that neither the hatred of thy person, the love of thy riches, 
nor the fear of any trouble thou couldest have done to me in 
particular, moved or moveth me to strike thee, but only 
because thou hast been, and remainest an obstinate enemy 
against Christ Jesus and His Gospel." 1 Having spoken thus, 
he struck him with his stog-sword ; and so the cardinal fell, 
the victim of a mean and mercenary conspiracy, originating as 
much in political as religious reasons, encouraged by a foreign 
potentate, and ripened by revenge. 

While this bloody tragedy was being enacted in the car- 
dinal's bedroom, the rumour had spread through St Andrews 
that the castle had been seized. The town-bell was rung, the 
magistrates and people hurried to the edge of the fosse to 
inquire the truth, but would not believe the conspirators when 
they declared to them from the walls that the cardinal was 
dead. Devoted to Beaton, they became clamorous, and to put 
an end to their cries, the murderers took the bleeding corpse, 
and fastening it by one leg and an arm to a sheet, they swung 
it over the wall, and then told the people in mockery to see 
1 Knox's History, book i. 

A.D. 1546.] CHARACTER OF BEATON. 19 1 

their god. 1 Shocked at this revolting spectacle of fallen great- 
ness, the crowd quietly and quickly dispersed. 

Through the mists of three hundred years the form of Beaton 
looms upon us — the greatest and the last of Rome's champions 
in Scotland. He fell, and the Papacy fell with him. To laud 
him as a religious man were idle, for he was not even moral. 
Forbid by his Church the enjoyments of wedlock, he lived in 
concubinage with Marion Ogilvy, who was seen stealing from 
his room on the morning of his murder ; 2 and in the marriage- 
contract of Margaret Beaton with the Master of Crawford, he 
did not hesitate to designate her as his daughter. 3 But it were 
equally idle to deny him the praise of being a great church- 
man and a great statesman. As either, he reached to the 
highest position to which a subject might aspire ; like Wolsey, 
he was a cardinal-primate, and all but a king ; and his govern- 
ment was characterised by an energy, resolution, and sagacity, 
which overcame every difficulty, and made reluctant barons 
succumb before a haughty ecclesiastic. He was indeed 
ambitious and unscrupulous in the attainment of the objects 
of his ambition ; but ambition is the sin of great minds. He 
was a persecutor, and spilt the blood of the innocent ; but he 
did it in ignorance, believing that the safety of the Church, of 
which he was the head, required severe measures to be taken 
with the " heretics " who threatened its destruction. Tried by 
the maxims of the New Testament, we cannot pronounce him 
a good man ; tried by the maxims of the world, we must pro- 
nounce him a great man. 

Thus within three months the cardinal had followed the 
Lutheran preacher; and widely divided in life, they were 
now united in a violent death. But there are circumstances 
which lead us to believe that the threads of Wishart's and of 
Beaton's destiny were still more closely intertwined. 

As murder will not hide, documents have been brought to 
light, after centuries, which prove beyond all doubt that for 
two years before this a conspiracy had been formed to assassi- 
nate Cardinal Beaton. On the 17th of April 1544, the Earl 
of Hertford transmits to King Henry a letter from Crichton of 
Brunston, containing a proposal on the part of the Master of 
Rothes and Kirkaldy of Grange, " to apprehend or slay the 
cardinal at some time when he shall pass through the Fife- 

1 Letter of James Lindsay, a Scottish spy, to his employer Lord Wharton, 
quoted in notes and illustrations to Ty tier's History, vol. v. 

2 Knox, book i. 3 Keith, book i. 


land." 1 This letter was brought to Hertford, and by him trans- 
mitted to Henry, by a Scotchman of the name of Wishart. 
The conspiracy slept for a year, when we find it again agitated 
by the Earl of Cassillis, the friend and coadjutor of Brunston. 
Besides other documentary proof, there is still in existence a 
letter from the English privy council to the Earl of Hertford, 
dated May 30, 1545, which refers to a letter from the Earl of 
Cassillis to Mr Ralph Sadler, " containing an offer for the kill- 
ing of the cardinal, if his Majesty would have it done, and 
would promise when it were done a reward." There was 
nothing for which the English monarch was more anxious, as 
Beaton was the great obstacle to the execution of his plans ; 
but he did not like to give direct encouragement to the assas- 
sins, or direct promises of reward, as it might compromise his 
royal dignity, and all they could get was general encourage- 
ment from his ambassador, and an assurance that his Majesty 
" misliked not the offer." Again the conspiracy slept ; for the 
wages of iniquity had not been stipulated, the price of blood 
had not been told down. But the plan was not given up. In 
October the Laird of Brunston is once more in communication 
with the English government ; " hoping to God that the car- 
dinal's proposed journey to France will be cut short," but in- 
sisting that " his Majesty must be plain with them, both what 
his Majesty would have them to do, and in like manner what 
they shall lippen to of his Majesty." Sadler in return assures 
him that it would be an acceptable service to God and the 
king to take the cardinal out of the way, and that though he 
could not compromise his Majesty, he could safely promise 
any reward that was reasonable, and would undertake to pay 
it himself on the execution of the act " from Christian zeal ;" 
and finally hints that, if he were in his place, he knew what 
he would do " to please God and do good to his country." 
After this we are left in the dark ; the correspondence appears 
to cease, or at least is not preserved. 2 

1 The existence and authenticity of this letter were long questioned ; but 
all doubts are now removed. State Papers (Henry VIII.), v. 377. 
Hamilton Papers, 96. 

2 The reader will find this strange mystery minutely traced in Tytler's 
History, both in the text and in an elaborate note appended to the fifth 
volume. He may also trace it in the State Papers of the period, now 
published in abbreviated form in the Calendars. We may feel grieved at 
the dark discoveries, but there is no gainsaying the evidence, and it is 
a weak thing to shut our eyes against historic truth, because the sight of 
it pains us. 

A.D. 1546.] THE CONSPIRACY. 1 93 

But though the correspondence does not conduct us up to 
the very day when the deed was done, it is quite sufficient to 
prove that the Earl of Cassillis, the Master of Rothes, and the 
Lairds of Brunston and Grange had entered into a foul con- 
spiracy to murder Beaton, and that this conspiracy was en- 
couraged by the English monarch and the English Privy 
Council, who were ready to pay the assassins. If it be asked — 
Was George Wishart connected with it ? it must be answered, 
there is a strong presumption that he was, though not positive 
and conclusive proof. It is just possible that the Wishart 
mentioned in the Earl of Hertford's letter may not have been 
the martyr, but his close intimacy at that time with every one 
of the conspirators leads one to suspect that he was. Beaton 
himself knew that his life was in danger ; and it is difficult to 
believe that Wishart was entirely ignorant of the character and 
intrigues of the men with whom he was so intimately associ- 
ated. We know that he lived in constant dread of the cardi- 
nal, and frequently anticipated his fate ; and when at last he 
was apprehended, it was at Ormiston, from which one of 
Brunston's letter was dated, in the company of Sandilands of 
Calder, from whose house a second document had gone forth, 
and of Brunston, the chief of the intriguers ; and they were all 
together, anxiously awaiting the coming of the Earl of Cassillis 
and his friends from the west. But in addition to this, we 
know that Wishart frequently foretold the woes that were 
coming upon his country, and even in the flames is said to 
have predicted the cardinal's death ; and if so, his foreknow- 
ledge must have been the result of his admission to the coum 
cils of the conspirators and their English allies ; for the same 
reasons which force us to deny miraculous powers to the Papal 
Church, must lead us to refuse them to our own. 

But it will be asked — How is it possible to believe that one 
so saintly as the martyr of Pittarrow could enter into so mur- 
derous a plan ? The difficulty of belief arises from our trans- 
ferring the piety of the nineteenth to the sixteenth century — 
the piety of men at ease, to men oppressed by power, and by 
no means free of the ferocity of the feudal times. In the 
language of Sadler, the bloody deed was done " to please God" 
and " for Christian zeal," as well as for " a small sum of 
money." The religion of the Reformation period in Scotland 
was of a sterner kind than that prevailing now, modelled more 
after the examples of the Old Testament than according to the 
spirit of the New. It was accounted right to take vengeance 

VOL. I. n 


on oppressors ; it was peculiarly the Lord's work. To hew 
Agag in pieces, to smite the prophets of Baal, to scatter the 
proud in the imaginations of their heart, was a work to which 
the faithful were called, and which they must not shrink from 
performing. This was shown by the speech of Melville before 
passing his sw r ord through the body of the cardinal ; it is shown 
in the language with which Knox records the event ; x and it 
is shown by the whole history of the period. It were really 
more difficult to believe that Wishart could be free from these 
feelings, than that he should be infected by -them. 


Before proceeding to narrate the last struggle between the 
new opinions and the old' — between Protestantism rising 
into vigour, and Popery, strong in its antiquity, its wealth, and 
its legal establishment, but rapidly losing its hold on the affec- 
tions of the people, we wish to pause and take a view of the 
Church of Scotland before its reformation — a farewell look of 
the stately fabric before it fell. 

The papal creed had attained to nearly its present develop- 
ment, though it had not yet received the exact definition 
which it soon afterwards did from the decrees and canons of 
the Council of Trent. The Word of God was recognised as 
the rule of faith and manners ; but this was held to include not 
only the canonical Scriptures, but the traditions of Christ and 
His apostles, as these were to be found in the writings of the 
early fathers. The Jehovah of the Jews was recognised as the 
God of the Christians, and the doctrine of the Trinity, obscure 
to the former, was made clear to the latter ; but the worship 
and honour due to the one God was given to crosses and 
crucifixes, to paintings and statuary. As our papal ancestors 
believed in the one God, so did they believe in the one 
Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; but 
they regarded the virgin- mother, the apostles, the martyrs, the 
saints, as intercessors too, and these, upon their bended knees, 
they humbly invoked. They trusted to the sacrifice made by 

1 Notwithstanding our admiration of Knox, we think it impossible to 
read his indecent jests at the cardinal's death without extreme pain and 
disgust ; and it is too evident from the whole narrative, that he approved 
of and applauded the murder. 


the great High Priest ; but instead of regarding it as the one 
sacrifice made once for all, they believed that every time the 
mass was celebrated a new sacrifice was offered for the sins of 
the living and the dead. They believed in the forgiveness of 
sins ; but instead of considering this as the free gift of divine 
grace, they made it result from the virtue of the sacraments as 
dispensed by the Church. They believed in the life everlast- 
ing ; but they also believed that betwixt earth and heaven lay 
the yawning abyss of purgatory, where sin unrepented of must 
be expiated, and the soul tortured for centuries, unless relieved 
by the masses and prayers of the priests. They believed in 
the Holy Catholic Church; but they restricted its members to 
the Roman communion ; its priests were held to be the only 
legitimate successors of the apostles ; and the sacraments, as 
dispensed by their hands, and only theirs, were supposed to 
operate like a charm in purifying the soul from sin. In 
baptism, our nature was regenerated ; in the eucharist, the 
bread and wine were transubstantiated into the actual body 
and blood of Christ \ in penance, all crimes committed after 
the laver of baptism were pardoned ; and in extreme unction, 
the parting spirit was so purged from human defilement as to 
be fit to enter into the presence of the Holy One who inhabit- 
eth eternity. 

In this creed, the true and the false, the sublime and the 
absurd were strangely interwoven, and it was undoubtedly the 
one that preserved the other, as the solid columns of the old 
cathedrals sustained the grotesque figures of imaginary angels 
and demons, monsters and men, that grinned from their cor- 
bels on the worshippers below. In so far as it places an 
earthly priesthood in the room of the Great High Priest, and 
puts the pardon of sin and the keys of paradise into their 
hands, it may be regarded as partly an invention of the Church 
to aggrandize itself, and as partly an expression of human 
feeling ; for under all systems of faith man has shown an inve- 
terate tendency to be pious by proxy, and to get the stated 
ministers of religion to pray for him, to believe for him, to 
make reconciliation for him. He will rather pay another to 
do this for him than earnestly do it himself. 

In order that the faithful might worship on consecrated 
ground, every parish had its church, and every bishop's seat 
its cathedral. How noble some of these structures were their 
remains do still testify; but it were wrong to imagine that alL 
the ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland were on a similarly 


magnificent scale. Most of the parish churches have perished 
through the mere waste of time, but from those that remain — 
some entire, and some in ruins — we may infer that they were 
not in general more imposing than those which now shelter 
the Protestant worship. 1 To these the faithful were accus- 
tomed to resort, not to hear sermon, as with us, but to be pre- 
sent at the office of the mass, or some other Church-service, 
to say their prayers before the figure of some favourite saint, 
or to make confession to the priest. It would appear that 
then, as now, other motives than those which religion approves 
took people to church; for Dunbar, in his poem of the " Two 
Married Women and the Widow," makes his widow describe 
herself as repairing to church in her weeds, spreading out 
her book, illumined with gold, upon her knee, drawing her 
cloak forward on her face, and from behind it stealing 
glances at the knights and clerks who were at their devotions 
beside her. 

Preaching had, in a great measure, fallen into disuse amongst 
the secular clergy. The parsons seldom preached ; the bishops 
never. Kennedy of St Andrews appears to have been an 
exception, for it is recorded of him that he preached four 
times a-year in every parish in his diocese, and compelled his 
subordinate clergy to remain at their parish kirks, to preach 
the Word of God to the people, and to visit them when they 
were sick ; and, more effectually to enforce this, he was in the 
habit of catechizing the parishioners, on his visitations, if they 
were duly instructed by the parson or vicar, if the sacraments 
were regularly administered, the poor sustained, and the 

1 Dunbar, in his vain longings for a benefice, declares that he would be 
content with a church thatched with heather : 

" Greit abbais grayth I nill to gather, 
But ane kirk scant coverit with hadder; 
For I of lytil wald be fane, 
Quhilk to consider is ane pane." 

Poem on the Worlds Instabilitie. 

"We have a fervid description," says the Quarterly Review, "of the 
beauty of the chancel of Dollar in Clackmannanshire in 1336, but the 
chronicle does not conceal that the building was only of hewn oak. We 
know that at the same date the chancel of Edrom in the Merse was 
thatched with straw. Nor does there appear cause to believe that the 
great mass of the parish churches were in much better state, either in 
that age or until long after the Reformation." (Quarterly Review, June 


The First Book of Discipline confirms this, by requiring that the kirks 
be repaired with thack or sclait> chap. xv. 


youth brought up in godliness. 1 Kennedy must have been a 
light shining in a dark place. There were not many that fol- 
lowed his example. But the neglect of preaching by the 
seculars was in some respects compensated for by the friars. 
They were in the constant habit of preaching to the people. 
The popularity of the Dominicans rested in a great measure 
upon their preaching. One of their names pointed to their 
work — they were called fratres predicantes. Accordingly we 
have frequent allusions to preaching in ante-Reformation 
times. Dunbar, the poet, who was brought up as a friar, 
boasts of having preached in the pulpit at Canterbury, and 
everywhere throughout England and France. 2 In 1508 we 
hear of a Scottish doctor expounding the Epistles of St Paul 
at St Paul's Cross ; and in 15 13 Dr West, the English ambas- 
sador, writes : " When the passion was preached, and the ser- 
mon done, the queen sent for me." 3 Sir Ralph Sadler was 
first introduced to Mary of Guise in the Chapel of Holyrood, 
where she was, with a number of her ladies, hearing a sermon in 
French. This was on a Friday, between nine and ten in the 
morning. On the Sunday following, the ambassador resorted 
to the palace to exhibit the geldings which Henry had sent for 
the acceptance of James. Again he was taken to the chapel, 
and again he found the queen at a sermon. 4 Before Wishart 
was impeached and tried, Winram, the sub-prior of St 
Andrews, preached a sermon upon heresy to the assembled 
clergy and people; 5 and in 1552, eight years before the Re- 
formation, an act of the Scottish Parliament imposed fines 
upon those who should interrupt divine service and preaching 
of the Word of God ; 6 an act which seems too plainly to inti- 
mate that the Reformers had already begun rudely to disturb 
the established worship. 

The discourses of these monkish orators, we may well be- 
lieve, were not such as would now be applauded: they 
embodied not the Christianity that now is, but the Christianity 
that then was received in the churches. They were generally 

1 Lyndsay's History, p. 69. 

2 In freiris weid full fairly haif I fleichit, 
In it haif I in pulpet gane and preichit, 
In Demtown kirk, and eik in Canterbury, 
In it 1 past at Dover our the ferry ; 
Throw Picardy, and thair the peple teichit. 

3 Pinkerton, vol. ii. 

4 Sadler's State Papers, &c, vol. i. pp. 22-40. 

5 Knox's History, book i. 6 Mary, pari. v. c. xvii. 


filled with the legends of fabulous saints, the pains of purga- 
tory, and the virtues of the mass. Knox makes one of his 
reforming preachers ridicule sermons in which cursing was too 
freely used. " The priest," saith he, " whose duty and office 
is to pray for the people, standeth up on Sunday and crieth, 
Ane hath lost her spurtle ; there is a flail stolen from them 
beyond the burn \ the goodwife on the other side of the gate 
has lost a horn spoon ; God's malison and mine I give to them 
that knoweth of this gear and restoreth it not." 1 Such preach- 
ing as this, however homely, if the cursing were left out, 
might be not only pardoned but encouraged if it conduced to 

After the Church-service was ended, the Sunday was not 
regarded as peculiarly sacred. It was common to hold mar- 
kets and fairs upon it ; and the rustic, after hearing mass at 
the altar, retired to the ale-house to sell his meal, or haggle 
about the price of a horse. 2 Marketing was sometimes carried 
on in the porch of the church, and even before the service was 
done. 3 In other cases, the parson followed his parishioners to 
the churchyard, to witness their skill in archery, 4 or join in 
their laughter at the frolics of Robin Hood and Little John. 5 
Shops, hostelries, and places of amusement were open ; and it 
was nothing unusual for the courts of law to sit upon a Sun- 
day. 6 The way in which the Sunday was kept is very well 
illustrated by an incident already referred to. It was on a 
Sunday morning Sir Ralph Sadler was ordered to attend his 
Majesty James V. with the horses sent to him from the stud 
of his royal uncle of England. When the ambassador arrived 
he found the courtly circle in chapel, devoutly engaged; but 
no sooner was the service over than the horses were brought 
into the palace-court, and mounted by a groom ; while his 
Majesty and his nobles from a window admired their action. 

1 Knox's History, book i. 

2 After the Reformation there were several acts of parliament forbidding 
markets or fairs to be held on Sabbath; and even before the Reformation 
legislation was tried, but failed. 

3 A synod shortly before the Reformation forbade this. 

4 James I., pari. i. chap, xviii., provides "That all men busk them to 
be archers, from ten years of age and upwards, and that in each ten 
pounds of land there be made bow marks, especially near to parish 
churches, wherein upon holydays men come, and at least shoot thrice 

5 The game of Robin Hood was generally celebrated on a Sunday in 


6 JJalzell's Cursory Remarks on " ane Book of Godly Sangs," p. 9. 


Festival-days would seem to have been very generally set apart 
for fairs; and thus a prudent compromise was made between 
religion and business. 1 

After the Reformation, Acts of Parliament were passed 
forbidding markets to be held upon a Sunday, and discharg- 
ing the people from gaming, playing, or resorting to taverns 
during divine service ; 2 but still it would seem that the 
customs of the country partly continued, for long afterwards 
we find Acts of Parliament and Acts of Assembly levelled 
against them. In 1591 the General Assembly complains of 
the profanation of the Sabbath by Robin Hood plays. 3 

Pilgrimages to shrines of reputed sanctity were regarded as 
peculiarly meritorious, and constituted an important part of 
the piety of the times.. Conspicuous among the places of 
pious resort was Whitehorn, where Ninian had reared his 
white church of stone by the waters of the Solway. But in 
later times this celebrated shrine was eclipsed by the Chapel 
of our Lady of Loretto at Musselburgh. Here were a famous 
image of the Virgin, and a holy hermit who pretended to 
work miracles. It was to this shrine that James V. made a 
pilgrimage from Stirling, in 1536, to secure a blessing upon 
his journey to France in search of a queen. But crowds of 
young men and women from Edinburgh were continually trip- 
ping their way to Musselburgh, more bent, as satirists affirm, 
upon love than devotion. 4 

Religious processions formed another conspicuous feature 
of the period, as they do in all papal countries in the present 
day. Yearly, on the 1st of September, the image of St Gile 
was borne through the streets of Edinburgh, with the sound 
of tabret, trumpet, and clarion ; and the populace uncovered 
their heads as it passed, and the more devout went down 
upon their knees in the gutters. But as the reformed opinions 
spread, it was a common trick to break into sanctuaries and 

1 Fair is a corruption of feriae, a festival-day. 

2 Jac. VI., pari. vi. chap. lxx. So early, in fact, as the reign of 
James IV., it was ordained that no markets or fairs should be held upon 
holidays, or within kirks or kirk-yards.. (James IV., pari. vi. c. lxxxiii. ) 
Legislation failed to put down a habit which had become inveterate. 

3 Book of the Universal Kirk, p. 356. 

4 " I have sene pass ane marvillous multitude — 
Young men and women, flingand on thair feit, 
Under the forme of fenzeit sanctitude, 
For till adore ane image in Laureit ; 
Mony came with thair marrowis for to meit," &c, &c 

L v N dsay'.^ Monarchic, 


steal away the images ; and in this way St Gile was got hold 
of, first drowned in the North Loch, and afterwards burned. 
When his day came round, and his procession must be made, 
an image was borrowed from the Grey Friars, which the 
populace at once nicknamed Young St Gile. This young 
saint was fastened with nails upon a species of ambulance, 
called a fertor, and so wheeled down the High Street, amid 
friars, priests, canons, trumpeters, tapers, banners, and bag- 
pipes — the queen regent herself walking at the head of the 
procession. But as the procession returned homewards, a 
cry got up, " Down with the idol ; down with it ; " and 
instantly the fertor was seized, and the image thrown into the 
mire. " Then might have been seen," says Knox, who 
narrates the incident with infinite satisfaction, " so sudden a 
fray as seldom hath been seen among that sort of men within 
this realm ; for down go the crosses, off go the surplices, round 
caps corner with the crowns. The grey friars gaped, the black 
friars blew, the priests panted and fled, and happy was he that first 
got the house." 1 This was in 155 8, and was probably the last time 
that the streets of the metropolis were perambulated by St Gile. 
The Romish priesthood well knew that the multitude are 
pleased with spectacles ; and probably they also knew that 
a rude populace can be most easily instructed by representa- 
tions which appeal to their senses. They were therefore in 
the habit of occasionally exhibiting, partly for the amusement 
and partly for the edification of their flocks, a kind of religious 
dramas, called Mysteries. In these some of the striking inci- 
dents of Scripture were delineated, and acted in the manner 
of a play ; in which the players were priests, and the 
dramatis persona the most holy and reverend names con- 
nected with religion. They were sometimes performed in a 
church, but more frequently in the open air ; and the audi- 
ence were kept attentive for eight or nine hours, and some- 
times for two or three days together, by the alternation of 
pious speeches, ribald conversations, and indecent scenes. 
Most of them would now be regarded as positively blas- 
phemous ; but they were not so regarded by our forefathers, 
and zealous Protestants have confessed to the profound 
impression produced on their mind by the passion-plays still 
performed at Ober Ammergau, in Bavaria, where the old 
custom still survives, but purified from the puerilities and 
irreverence of the ante-Reformation mysteries. It is impossible 

1 Knox's History, book i. 


to conceive that they were designed to turn religion into ridi- 
cule, or to treat its sanctities with levity or contempt. They 
were acted in all seriousness. The sense of the decorous 
alters with the times. Painting put forth her first effort upon 
Scripture incidents ; and did not hesitate to pourtray the 
Trinity upon her canvas. The modern drama, in like manner, 
originated in the Church, and its first scenes were borrowed 
from the Bible. 

But these theatricals were sometimes taken out of the hands 
of the clergy, and converted by the people into comic parodies 
upon the rites of religion. When inclined for frolic, it was not 
uncommon for the laity to elect some " lord of the revels, 
who, under the name of the Abbot of Unreason, the Boy 
Bishop, or the President of Fools, occupied the churches, pro- 
faned the holy places by a mock imitation of the sacred rites, 
and sung indecent parodies on hymns of the Church." l The 
clergy, singularly enough, tolerated these profane exhibitions, 
probably because they knew they occupied the attention, and 
afforded an outlet for the coarse humour of the populace, and 
were not really intended to cast dishonour on religion. We 
have an instance of this Saturnalian licence in 1547, when a 
macer of the Primate of St Andrews appeared at Borthwick 
with letters of excommunication against its lord, which the 
curate was required to publish at the service of high mass in 
the parish church. The inhabitants of the castle happened at 
the time to be engaged in the sport of acting the Abbot of 
Unreason. With this mock dignity at their head, they laid 
hold of the unhappy macer, ducked him once and again in 
the mill-dam, and then compelled him to eat his parchment 
letters, made palatable by being steeped in wine. These 
licensed frolics, at first deemed harmless, were afterwards per- 
severed in by the people, as the Reformation drew near, to 
turn the ceremonies and officers of the Church into contempt, 
and this has furnished Sir Walter Scott with some of the most 
graphic chapters in his " Abbot." 

It is difficult to ascertain the amount of personal piety which 
existed among our papal ancestors, and thus learn the inner 
life of the Church. " The kingdom of God cometh not with 
observation." Unable in many cases to determine the piety 
of our most intimate friends, it is hopeless to arrive at any very 
definite conclusions in regard to the piety of the masses three 
centuries ago. It must be admitted, though with pain, that 
1 Sir Walter Scott. Note to the Abbot. 


false objects of worship, as well as the true, are capable of ex- 
citing devotional feeling and that it is not always in the purest 
churches that there is most of the outward appearance of 
piety. The Hindu and the Moslem, after their own fashion, 
are as devout as the Christian ; the Romanist, when prostrate 
before a crucifix, mav exhibit as much earnestness as the 
Protestant when bowing before the Father of Spirits. If we 
judge by external tests, and it is these only we can apply, we 
shall not judge harshly of the piety of our forefathers. They 
waited diligently upon all the rites of the Church, and they 
showed their sincerity by the great liberality with which they 
endowed its ministers. They undoubtedly lived under a sense 
of religion, in hope of its rewards and in fear of its punish- 
ments ; and in the letters and other documents of the period 
which have come down to us, there are more references to 
religious topics than would be found in most of the epistolary 
correspondence of the present day. It is impossible to refrain 
from lamenting that so much devotional feeling should have 
been wasted on worthless objects; that virgins resplendent in 
tinsel and lace should have received the homage due only to 
Deity ; but still it is impossible to doubt but that much true 
piety continued to exist, notwithstanding the circumstances 
unfavourable to its growth, and that many prayers breathed in 
jDapal shrines from humble hearts found an echo in heaven. 

The Saxon tongue has ever been fruitful in oaths. Pro- 
testantism has not been able to eradicate the evil ; but it 
yisprung up in Roman Catholic times ; and the swearer's 
vocabulary was still more voluminous then than it is now. 
The following are a specimen of the more common forms : — 
By the Trinity, by God's passion, by God's wounds, by God's 
cross, by God's mother, by God's bread, by Him that wore 
the crown of thorns, by Him that herryit hell, by the rood, 
by the sacrament, by the mass, by my soul, by my thrift, by 
our Lady, by Allhallows, by St James, by St Michael, by St 
Gile, and so on by all the saints in the calendar. Such ex- 
pressions as these were copiously introduced into every con- 
versation, and do not appear to have been regarded as very 
improper, for they were perpetually used in the presence of 
the clergy without rebuke. Lyndsay's play is full of them, and 
it is from it that these examples have been culled. 

But with the dawn of the Reformation, a change for the 
better appears. On the ist of February 1551, an Act of Par- 
liament was passed against " them that swear abominable 


oaths." This curious act sets forth " that notwithstanding the 
oft and frequent preachings in detestation of the grievous and 
abominable oaths — swearing, execrations, and blasphemation 
of the name of God, swearing in vain by his precious blood, 
body, passion, and wounds, devil stick, cummer, gore, roist or 
riefe them, and such like ugly oaths and execrations, against 
the command of God, yet the same is come into such ungodly 
use amongst the people of this realm, both of great and small 
estates, that daily and hourly may be heard amongst them 
open blasphemation of God's name." x To remedy this state 
of things a scale of fines is- framed to suit the circumstances of 
different defaulters. If a bishop or lord were caught swearing, 
he was to be mulcted in twelve pence ; a baron or beneficed 
man in four pence, and so* on. A poor man, who had nothing 
to pay, was to have his feet put in the stocks, and women 
were to be rated according to their blood or marriage. Thus 
did a parliament of Mary attempt to cure this unprofitable 
vice, before her queenly cousin of England began to box the 
ears of her ministers, and to swear those horrid oaths which 
we shudder to read. 

In the absence of all statistics on the subject, it is almost as 
difficult to form a proper estimate of the morality as of the re- 
ligion of a by-gone age. It were wrong to conclude that our 
ancestors were immoral, because they were Roman in their 
faith and rude in their manners. A country, though Catholic, 
may be virtuous : and it is very questionable if refinement, 
though it deprives vice of its grossness, robs it of its power. 
There is an immorality of the country and an immorality of 
the city. Unfortunately very little of our ancient literature is 
descriptive of ancient manners. Dunbar, in his "Two Married 
Women and the Widow," gives a horrid picture of female 
libertinism, but the poem is plainly a satire on the sex, and, 
like all other satires* is evidently stretched beyond the truth. 
Lyndsay, in his " Squire Meldrum," gives us some interesting 
pictures of home life, in which there is mingled evil with good. 
In some cases the morality of a country may be gathered from 
the spirit that pervades its literature. The poems, novels, and 
plays of the age of Charles II. simply mirror the existing 
manners ; no other age could have produced them, no other 
generation would have read them. If we look to this test we 
shall find that the ante-Reformation literature of Scotland is 
often grossly indecent, but it does not breathe a licentious 
1 Mary, pari, v., 1st P^ebruary 1 551. 


spirit. Lyndsay's " Satire of the Three Estates " was acted at 
Linlithgow in presence of the king and his newly-wedded queen, 
the bishops, and a large concourse of lords and ladies ; and 
yet it has language and scenes most abominably immodest. 
But this argues rather a coarseness than a dissoluteness of 
manners. Persons in the lower walks of life sometimes use 
phrases which give a shock to all our ideas of propriety ; but 
this is very far from proving anything like impurity of feeling 
or incorrectness of conduct on their part Amongst our un- 
educated and remote peasantry, we may find reproduced, with 
but slight alterations, the generations that lived three centuries 
ago. As there are hills among the Cordilleras where we may 
see assembled together the vegetations of every climate under 
heaven, from the sugar-cane at the base to the lichen on the 
highest peaks, so we may discover as contemporaneous, if we 
are allowed to range over sufficient space, the customs and 
civilisations of all the epochs embraced by history. 

The ministers of religion before the Reformation were not 
the men to exercise the best influence upon the morals of the 
people. In the exercise of the Church's patronage gigantic 
evils had arisen, which urgently called for reform. The whole 
system had become rotten. We have seen the efforts made by 
successive monarchs to prevent the purchase of benefices at 
Rome. They never succeeded ; the abuse continued till the 
very last ; and a foreigner annually disposed of many of the 
best livings in Scotland, and by the purchase-money which he 
received made a country naturally poor poorer still. 1 The 
presentees of the king and nobles received their appointments 
from motives equally mean and mercenary. The livings of 
the Church came to be regarded just as a means of endowing 
a younger son, providing for a bastard, enriching a favourite, 
or paying the arrears of wages due to a servant. 2 In 15 13 the 
archbishopric of St Andrews was held by a bastard son of 

1 Lyndsay speaks as if the practice were on the increase : — 
" It is schort tyme sen ony benefice 
Was sped in Rome except greit bischopries; 
Bot now for ane unworthie vickarage, 
Ane priest will rin to Rome in pilgrimage, 
Ane carell whilk was never at the scule, 
Will rin to Rome and keip ane bischopis mule, 
And syne cam hame, with mony colorit crack, 
With ane burden of benefices on his back." 

Satyre of the Three Estaitis. 

2 " And him that gaits ane parsonage, 
Thinks it a present for a page." 

Dun bar's Complaint. 


James IV., and in 1547 the same dignity was possessed by the 
bastard brother of the Earl of Arran, Governor of the King- 
dom. James V., in 1538, bestowed five of the richest 
monasteries in Scotland on his natural children, albeit they 
were little better than babies ; and even before this, one of 
them had held several benefices. 1 When such was the way in 
which promotion in the Church was obtained, we need not 
wonder that the clergy degenerated, if not in exterior accom- 
plishments, at least in the virtues which become those who 
minister at the altar. 

Pluralities had likewise prodigiously increased. 2 The great 
dignitaries of the Church set the example, and beside their 
bishoprics, held abbacies, priories, and parishes, for the sake 
of their revenues. Forman and Beaton were notorious for this. 
Every one grasped as many livings as he could ; and if the 
teinds were got hold of there was little thought of the cure of 
souls. Another sacrilegious practice had arisen — bestowing 
abbacies and priories in commendam? The commendator need 
not be a man of learning and piety ; he need not be in holy 
orders at all ; he drew the revenues without being able to dis- 
charge the duties of the office. If the abbot was a com- 
mendator, the prior did the work ; if the prior was a com- 
mendator, the sub-prior was at hand. In a previous part of 
our history we have adverted to yet another evil — the appro- 
priation of parishes, patronage, teinds, everything, by Religious 
Houses, who appointed a vicar to serve the cure, or perhaps 
had the duties perfunctorily discharged by one of their own 
sodality. The parish priest in this way lost much of his 
respectability, independence, and income, and the tenth sheaf 
and the tenth lamb went to fatten the useless inmates of some 
distant monastery. These things might be tolerated in times 
of mental stagnation ; but it was certain that so soon as men 

1 Balfour's Annals. Pinkerton, vol. ii. 

2 " I knaw nocht how the Kirk is gydit, 
Bot benefices ar nocht leil devydit ; 
Sum men hes seven, and I nocht ane, 
Quilk to considder is ane pane." 

D U N B A R — World's List a bill tie. 
See also his poem, The Fest of Benefyce. 

3 Lyndsay stigmatizes this abuse also in his satire ; but he lets the 
courtier get the better of the reformer when he proposes there should be 
an exception in favour of the blood-royal. The truth is, his patron James 
V. was notoriously guilty of the practice. 

Of the twenty abbots and priors that sat in the parliament that effected 
the Reformation, fourteen were commendators. (Keith, book i. chap, xii.) 


began to think, the system must perish. The tree stands 
stately and erect in the summer's calm, though there be rotten- 
ness at the heart; but with the first breath of the hurricane it 
goes crashing to the ground. 

We cannot conceal, though we willingly would, the gross 
licentiousness of all ranks of the clergy. Denied by the stern 
ordinance of their Church the enjoyment of wedlock, and 
unable to repress the instincts of their nature, they sought 
relief either in systematic concubinage, or in the seduction of 
the wives and daughters of their parishioners. The temptation 
to crime was increased by the confessional, where the celebate 
was required to hear from the warm lips of a woman the in- 
most secrets of her heart and the strangest passages of her 
life. Accordingly, the ancient canons of the Scottish Church 
cautiously enjoined the confessor, when confessing a female, 
not to look her too often in the face. But canons were 
powerless, and councils strove in vain, to repress the growing 
immorality of the clergy. When the Bishop of Aberdeen 
ordered the dean and chapter of his See to hold a council to 
devise means for preventing the growth of heresy, the council 
besought his lordship " to cause the Churchmen reform their 
shameful lives, and remove their open concubines ; and that 
he would have the goodness to show an example, by abstaining 
from the company of the gentlewoman with whom he was 
greatly slandered." 1 Chisholme, the last Roman Bishop of 
Dunblane, had both sons and daughters, to whom he sacri- 
legiously alienated the possessions of his See. We have 
already seen Beaton marrying his daughter to the Master of 
Crawford, and we know that his son and namesake received a 
grant of the lands of Baky. 2 His successor in the primacy, as 
Knox takes care to inform us, fell into the same sin ; and so 
concluded the papal apostolical succession at St Andrews. 

When harlotry thus occupied the high places of the Church, 
we need not be surprised to find it in the gloom of cloisters, 
and amid the seclusion of rural parishes. The poetry of the 
time represents the vice as all but universal. Lyndsay lashes 
unmercifully parish priests, monks, friars, nuns — the taint was 
on them all ; and making all allowance for the excesses of 
satire, we must conclude that the clergy were not exemplars 
of chastity to their flocks. It may, however, be conceded that 

1 A copy of this document will be found in the Appendix to Dr Cook's 
History of the Reformation. 

2 Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 416. 

CH.vr. ix.] CELIBACY. 207 

many of those clerics who lived in concubinage regarded 
themselves as simply evading the unnatural restrictions of 
their Church, and as living in true, though unlawful, wedlock. 
The connections they formed show that the illicit alliance was 
not regarded as altogether disgraceful. Archbishop Cranmer 
had such a secret liaison, " affirming it was better for him to 
have his own wife than to do like other priests, having the 
wives of others." l Bad though this was, there were fouler sores 
generated by the celibacy of the clergy. Before the suppres- 
sion of the monasteries in England, they were visited by a 
royal commission, which made the most revolting revelations 
of all conceivable and inconceivable crimes ; and though some 
of their statements were afterwards proved to be false, and 
probably the whole narrative was exaggerated to subserve the 
purpose in view, it is difficult to resist the conviction that 
many Religious Houses had become dens of iniquity. Henry 
pressed upon James, that unless the monks of Scotland were 
more holy than those of England, nowhere did there reign 
" more abominations than were used in cloisters among monks, 
canons, nuns, and friers;" but all that James would admit was 
contained in his answer to the ambassador : " God forbid that 
if a few be not good, for them all the rest should be destroyed. 
Though some be not, there be a great many good ; and the 
good may be suffered, and the evil must be reformed, as ye 
shall hear that I shall see it redressed in Scotland, by God's 
grace, if I brook life." Such were the different views of 
monasticism entertained by the two monarchs. The one 
imagined it might be reformed, the other thought it only 
worthy to be destroyed. " Every plant," said Sadler, solemnly, 
"which my Father hath not planted shall be plucked up." 2 

Very different estimates have been formed of the literary 
attainments of the Scottish clergy prior to the Reformation. 
Some have maintained they were grossly ignorant, others that 
they were, compared with the age in which they lived, well- 
educated and intelligent. The difference of opinion has arisen 
from trying them by different standards, and having regard to 
different departments of literature. It must be conceded that 
in general they were ignorant of the contents of the Bible, and 
probably many of them had never once seen a copy of it. 
Luther was upwards of twenty, and in the convent of Erfurth, 
before he knew anything of the Scriptures ; there he found a 

1 Fronde's History, chap, xxxiii. 

2 Sadler's State Papers, &c., vol. i. p. 31. 


copy fastened by a chain, and began to study it. The Church 
had substituted the missal and breviary in the place of the 
Scriptures, and hundreds of the clergy knew only so much of 
the sacred oracles as were contained in these compilations. 
But it would be wrong to infer from this that they were ignor- 
ant of all theology. Unacquainted with the theology of the 
psalter, the gospels, and epistolary, they were versed in the 
theology of the missal, the pontifical, and the Hours of the 
blessed Virgin. Their text-books of divinity were different 
from ours, but their text-books they had. Their knowledge, 
like their faith, was that of the time. 

It must be remembered that printing had not been long 
invented, and that books were still scarce, so that the acquire- 
ments of the ecclesiastics must in general have been confined 
within a narrow circle. The libraries of the monasteries, 
the only ones then in existence, were accounted rich if they 
contained a hundred volumes. 1 Nevertheless, many of our 
ancient clergy were well read in the scholastic and patristic 
divinity, and some of them had extended their acquaintance to 
the Latin classics. Every age produced authors of whom we 
need not be ashamed ; and the Reformation found Lesley 
Official of Aberdeen, whose history of Scottish affairs does 
honour to himself and his order. The same period produced 
the classical Buchanan, and the Admirable Crichton, who 
astonished half the courts and universities of Europe by his 
learning and his logic. It may be safely concluded that the 
clergy in general were acquainted with the Latin tongue, and 
that many of them were able to write it and speak it with ease. 
The whole services of the Church were conducted in Latin, 
the whole literature of the day was contained in Latin, and 
therefore they must have known Latin if they knew anything. 
If we go beyond professional acquirements, and inquire into 
the general intelligence of the body, we shall find reason to 
believe that they were still, as a whole, the best educated and 

1 In the Priory of Lochleven there were but seventeen volumes. In the 
library of Glasgow Cathedral in 1432, we find the following catalogue of 
books: — I missale, 9 missalia ; 1 epistolare ; 1 catholicon ; 2 legenda 
sanctorum ; I biblia pulchra ; 7 breviaria ; 5 psalteria ; 7 antiphonaria ; 
3 gradalia ; 5 processionaria ; I collectarium ; 1 ordinarium ; 2 libri pon- 
tificates ; and a few others. These, we are told, were distinguished by 
their colour, their size, the number of their volumes, or the place where 
they were deposited, some being chained to stalls or beside altars, and 
others preserved in chests or presses. See Introduction to Breviary of 
Aberdeen, Maitland Club Ed. 


most intelligent portion of the community. It was this that 
enabled them so long to keep their ground. To try them by 
the present standard of intelligence were unfair ; we must try 
them by the standard which then existed, we must compare 
them with the age in which they lived. A school-boy in the 
nineteenth century may know more than a doctor of divinity 
in the sixteenth, and yet that doctor have been perfectly worthy 
of his degree. " To be plain with you/' says Sir Ralph Sadler, 
in a letter to a member of the English Privy Council, " though 
they (the Scottish nobles) be well-minded, and diverse others 
also that be of the Council and about the king, yet I see none 
amongst them that hath any such agility of wit, gravity, learn- 
ing, or experience to set forth the same, or to take in hand the 
direction of things. So that the king, as far as I can perceive, 
is of force driven to use the bishops, and his clergy as his only 
ministers for the direction of his realm. They be the men of art 
and policy that I see here; they be never out of the king's ear." 1 
But even though this be the testimony of an enemy, we 
must take it with some qualification, and regard it as chiefly 
applicable to the higher clergy, whose abilities procured them 
employment at court. There were prodigious disparities in 
the Roman Church, from the lordly prelate who rode to parlia- 
ment on his ambling mule, to the starvling of a priest who 
mumbled obits and masses for forty merks a year. This dis- 
parity in rank produced a corresponding disparity in intelli- 
gence. The beneficed clergy, and the heads of the Religious 
Houses, generally belonged to good families, and frequently 
had the benefit of a foreign education. The monks, on the 
other hand, were mostly taken from the peasantry, and, as a 
general rule, had only such a scanty acquaintance with letters 
as they could acquire at the conventual school. Some of 
them could not read with fluency and ease. 2 Before the 
invention of printing the most slender intellectual acquire- 
ments, the ability to con a lesson or wield a pen, placed a wide 
gulph between the clergy who could perform these literary 
feats and the laity who could not. But the introduction of this 

1 Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. p. 47. 

2 In proof of this there are not only the two satirical lines — 

4i Ane carell whilk was never at the scule." (Lyndsay, quoted p. 204), and 
" The curate his creid he could not reid." (quoted p. 217), 

but the Canon of the Council (quoted p. 253) enjoining the clergy to 
practise reading, and ordaining that those who could not go so and were 
under fifty should go to school and learn. The abuse of patronage 
created the evil. 

VOL. I. O 


marvellous art bridged over the gulph, by spreading education 
among the nobles, the barons, and the wealthier burgesses. 
To read and write was no longer a marvel. The clergy did 
not push on and maintain their distance ; and the sceptre 
which superior knowledge had placed in their hand departed 
from them. In a council which met under the presidency of 
Archbishop Hamilton in 1549, the growth of heresy is imputed 
to the dissolute lives of the clergy, and their gross ignorance 
in all arts and sciences. 1 

The clergy were chiefly supported by their lands and tithes. 
They held their lands by the same titles as the lay proprietors ; 
and though some envied them their large possessions it was 
only as some now envy the broad territories of the overgrown 
nobility. The wealth they had acquired by private bequests 
did not entail any burden on the general community ; while 
the Church's tenants were notoriously the most lightly rented 
in the whole country. Sir Richard Maitland, in one of his 
poems, pours forth a lament upon the change which was felt 
when the lands passed into the hands of the temporal lords. 2 
One should imagine that the lifting of the tithes must have 
been felt as a grievance, extending as they did to every con- 
ceivable kind of produce —grain, wool, milk, cheese, eggs, 
venison, fish, the young of animals, the multure of mills, the 
fruit of trees, the clearings of wood, &c, &c. 3 But Lyndsay, 
who rakes together every known grievance in his Satire, says little 
of this, so that we may conclude the tenantry had come to regard 
it as a part of their rent, and probably, so long as religious 

1 Hailes's Provincial Councils. Robertson's Concilia, Pref. cxlix. 

2 " Sum with deir ferme are herreit hail, 

That wount to pay but penny maill ; 

Sum be thar lordis are opprest, 

Put fra the land that they possest ; 
* * * * * 

Sum commouns that has been weil stakit 
Under kirkmen, are now all wrakit, 
Sen that the teind and the kirklands 
Came in great tempiral mennis hands," Sec. , &c. 
Complaint againis Oppression of the Commou/is — Maitland's Poems. 
Maitland is borne out by the First Book of Discipline. "With the 
griefe of our hearts we heare, that some gentlemen are now as cruell over 
their tenants as ever were the papists, requiring of them the teinds, and 
whatsoever they afore paid to the Kirk, so that the papistical tyranny shall 
only be changed into the tyranny of the lord and laird." (Chap, viii., 
sect, ii.) 

3 Connel on Tithes, vol. iii. pp. 17, 18 — where will be found a number 
of extracts from the Canons of the Church of Scotland regarding tithes. 


unanimity prevailed, felt a devout gratification in contributing 
to the maintenance of their ghostly fathers. 

But there was another exaction which was universally felt as 
a hardship, and we cannot wonder that it was so. It was 
called the corse present When death visited a family, the 
violence of grief was scarcely allowed to subside, till the 
parson came, and carried off the best cow and the " uppermost 
cloth." 1 When deprived of her husband, a widow might 
thus be robbed of her only remaining means of support. 
Lyndsay, in his play, introduces a poor man who has been 
bereaved successively of his father, his mother, and his wife, 
and who complains that on each occasion the vicar had driven 
away a cow ; and to complete his misfortunes, the landlord 
had seized the grey mare, which brought a foal every year 
and carried coals to Edinburgh, as his heryeild, or fine on 
the death of a vassal; and now he had neither cow nor 
mare, and was bent on feeing counsel with his only remaining 
groat, and seeking remede at law. He was told, however, that 
he was a mad fool to think he would get redress against 
churchmen, or that he could escape an extortion, which, 
though not founded on law, could plead a long consuetude. 

There was yet another way in which money was raised — by 
the sale of indulgences and of relics. The Pardoner perambu- 
lated the country like a hawker, selling his sealed indulgences 
and his mouldy bones to those who were simple enough to buy 
them. There were also clerke-maile, teindale, Candlemas offer- 
ings, Pasche offerings, fees for baptism and the burial of the 
dead, and the rich harvest which accrued for saying masses for 
souls in purgatory. In addition to all these sources of revenue, 
there was the mendicancy of the mendicant friars, and the 
plenty in which they lived proved that they did not beg in vain. 

Such, as near as we can gather, was the state of the Church 
when it became evident to many that a great religious revolu- 
tion was approaching. Many causes were concurring to hasten 
it. Ever since the days of Wickliff, there were men who, 
without separating from the membership of the Church, saw 
and grieved over its abuses, and yearned for a return to the 
simplicity of primitive Christianity. The seed was in the soil, 
and waited only a favourable season to germinate. The Refor- 
mation in Germany awakened ideas in Scotland which pointed 

1 The uppermost cloth seems to refer to the coverlet of the bed ; but 
what the parson could do with his accumulation of coverlets is a mystery 
and a marvel. The custom was not confined to Scotland. 


to reformation too. Communities strongly sympathise with 
each other, especially in periods of excitement. The throbbings 
of one heart pulsate throughout the whole system. Every 
vessel that crossed the German Sea brought the contagion of 
German heresy to our shores, for every vessel brought Bibles, 
theses, sermons, the " Praise of Folly " from the witty pen of 
Erasmus, or the " Confession of Augsburg" from the mild pen 
of Melancthon. The Reformation in England had a still more 
decided influence upon Scotland. 1 Henry used every means, 
both fair and foul, to induce the Scottish nation to copy the ex- 
ample he had set. He tempted our needy king with the pros- 
pect of enjoying the plunder of the Church, and he kept our still 
more needy nobles in his pay. While Angus, Cassillis, and Glen- 
cairn were in England, they had seen private gentlemen become 
great lords, and great lords become greater still, through their 
share of monastic spoil ; and it is impossible to doubt, from 
their conduct, that their avarice prepared their minds for the 
reception of the principles of the Reformation. In tracing a 
great politico-religious movement like this, it is strange to 
remark how the base mingles with the noble, and vice leagues 
herself with virtue, and how God overrules all — making the 
very wrath, and selfishness, and sins of men to praise him. 

Amongst the agencies employed to spread the Reform 
opinions, one of the most effective was poetry. The power of 
poetry upon a primitive people has passed into a proverb ; and 
modern poetry had no sooner sprung into existence than she 
began to rail against the clergy and the Church. Dante 
boldly placed a pope in hell, and represented Satan as im- 
patiently waiting the arrival of another. Chaucer let loose all 
his powers of laughter against the monks and friars, and his 
poetry was read and praised, while sermons not half so 
damaging would have been burned. Dunbar, though himself an 
ecclesiastic, did not refrain from satirising ecclesiastical abuses. 
In some of his minor poems he attacks the prevalence of 
pluralities, and the character of those who obtained Church 
preferments ; and though envy and disappointment sharpened 
his shafts, it is evident they were aimed at actual objects. 
In his " Friars of Berwick " we have a ludicrous tale of a holy 
abbot who was too intimate with a farmer's wife, the exquisite 
humour of which must have been keenly relished by a genera- 
tion disposed to enjoy a joke at delinquent churchmen. 

1 In Sage's Charter of Presbytery this influence is traced with great 
labour and learning, and we now know more than Sage did. 

chap, ix.] lyndsay's poems. 213 

But Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount, though inferior to 
Dunbar as a poet, was the great scourge of the Roman clergy. 
In almost every one of his poems he has either some sly hit 
or some fierce assault upon them. His " Complaint of the 
Papingo," " Kitty's Confession/' and his " Satire on the Three 
Estates," were specially written to turn into ridicule and bring 
into disgrace the whole order. The king's papingo or parrot 
has fallen from the top branch of a tree and is dying. Instantly 
she is surrounded by the pye — a canon regular, the raven — a 
black monk, and the gled — a holy friar. They bewail her 
misfortune, press upon her the need of confession, and suggest 
she should leave all her goods to their care, that masses may 
be said for her soul after she is gone. But the papingo has 
still enough of strength left to read them a long lecture upon 
the decline of the Church, and upon their greed, idleness, 
sensuality, and other sins. They, however, persuade her in 
the end to allow herself to be shrived, and to consign her body 
and property to their charge, and then before she is well dead 
they fall out among themselves about the division of the spoil. 
In " Kitty's Confession " we have a dialogue between the 
curate and a country girl at the confessional. She acknow- 
ledges herself to have violated more than one of the command- 
ments, and when asked about heresy, she ingenuously confesses 
she did not know what it meant. But when further pressed 
if she had ever seen any English books, she acknowledged 
she had seen her master reading some ; and there can be no 
doubt but that it was Tyndale's Translation of the new Testa- 
ment that was referred to. The curate finally tells her she 
must come to his house in the evening in order to be absolved. 
" Kitty's Confession " is supposed to have been written in 
1 541, just previous to the passing of Lord Maxwell's Act 
allowing the Bible to be read in the vulgar tongue. The 
" Satire on the Three Estates " is a kind of play, and was 
evidently modelled after the Mysteries or Moralities which 
were acted in the Papal Church. The vices of all the Estates, 
and more especially of the spiritual, are mercilessly exposed and 
ridiculed ; but King Correction in the end promises a thorough 
reformation, and after a discourse by one of the new doctors of 
divinity, Common Thief, Deceit, and Falsehood are hanged. 

This celebrated satirical comedy was first acted at Cupar- 
Fife, in 1535 ; afterwards in the playfield at Linlithgow, by the 
express command of the king, on the day of Epiphany 1540 : 
and a third time near Edinburgh, in 1554, in presence of the 


queen-regent, the nobility, and a great concourse of people. 
The student now reads the play quietly in his closet, and he 
finds in it enough of pungent satire to reward his pains ; but he 
also meets with passages which make him marvel how it was 
possible that such words could be spoken, and such scenes repre- 
sented, in the presence of the young Mary of Guise, her maids 
of honour, and a mixed assemblage of princes, prelates, and 
nobles. It is too evident there must have been at the period 
a coarseness of sentiment, language, and manners among our 
highest classes which are now scarcely to be found amongst 
our lowest. In truth, such a representation would not now be 
tolerated by the lowest rabble in the lowest theatre. 

But it is still more marvellous that a play, specially designed 
to degrade the clergy, by heaping upon them all possible 
calumnies, should have been tolerated at such a time, and 
acted in the presence of a monarch understood to be favourable 
to the Established Church. The most obvious explanation is, 
that it was written and acted at the request of the king, in 
order to lead to the reformation of the clergy, by setting their 
sins before their eyes, — and probably to prepare them for some 
legislative measures which he contemplated. Government 
measures are now sometimes heralded by a leader in the 
"Times" or an article in the " Edinburgh Review;" and 
though James had no such organ at his disposal, he had the 
poetic genius of the Lyon-King. Lyndsay entered into the 
service of James on the day of his nativity. He was his prin- 
cipal page, his sewer, cupbearer, carver, treasurer, and chief 
cubicular, — an office which consisted in keeping the bed- 
clothes comfortably about the prince, and sleeping by his side. 
As James grew older, it was Lyndsay's duty to amuse him by 
bearing him on his back, making all kinds of antics, counter- 
feiting all kinds of beasts, and singing all kinds of songs. 1 In 
this way did the prince grow up under the eye of the poet till 
he was twelve years of age, and we know that he ever after- 
wards regarded him with affection. What more likely than that 
he should request him to satirize the clergy. James was not 
blind to their vices ; he was bent on their reform. He wished to 
purify the Church, though he wished to preserve it. We know 
he employed his tutor, Buchanan, to lampoon the Franciscans ; 
how much more likely that he should ask Lyndsay to lampoon 
the whole ecclesiastical body. We may be certain that the 

1 We have all this very pleasantly described in his Dreme, and also in 
his Complaynt. 


lyon-king would not have written what he did without knowing 
that it would find favour with his Majesty. He was too fond 
of his places and pensions to do otherwise. The whole design 
becomes more apparent when we find that immediately after 
the play the king sent for some of the higher clergy and thus 
addressed them : — " Wherefore did my predecessors give so 
many lands and rents to the kirk? Was it to maintain hawks, 
dogs, and whores to you idle priests ? The King of England 
burns, the King of Denmark beheads you ; but I shall stick 
you with this whinger. Mend your ways, or I will send six of 
the proudest of you to England." 1 The whole thing, includ- 
ing this afterpiece, had evidently been preconcerted ; and it 
heightens our ideas of the prudence and policy of the king to 
find him thus anxious, by the powers of satire, to correct 
ecclesiastical abuses, and gently prepare the way for a change. 
John Wesley thought it was a pity that the devil should have 
all the best tunes, and accordingly he had his Methodist hymns 
set to some of those exquisite melodies which had hitherto 
been wedded to words of profane meaning. The Scottish 
Reformers must have cherished a similar sentiment when they 
compiled their " Compendious Booke of Godly and Spirituali 
Songs, collected out of sundrie partes of the Scripture, with 
Sundrie of other Ballates changed out of Prophaine Sangis for 
avoyding of sin and harlotrie." 2 The Romish priesthood are 
said, by a little change in the drapery, to have converted Pagan 
deities into Christian apostles. Our forefathers exhibited an 
equal ingenuity when, by a little change in the words, they 
converted these profane ballads into spiritual songs. Who was 
the alchymist who thus transmuted dirt into gold cannot now 
be discovered ; but these singular productions are said to have 
been sung with enthusiasm by our ancestors, and to have 
spread amongst a people who could sing, but could not read, 
Reformation ideas. Their spirit proves their epoch. They 
breath a fierce hostility against the Romish idolatry, expose 
the vices of the clergy, inveigh against the pope, the cardinal, 
and the queen-regent, complain of cruel usage and violated 
treaties, and in many ways point to the period immediately 
preceding the Reformation. The Roman clergy were not slow 
to retaliate; and in this case they retaliated in a legitimate way. 

1 Sir James Melville's Memoirs, pp. 63, 64. Sir William Eure in a letter 
to the Lord Privy Seal of England tells the same story, though slightly 
different. Knox also relates it. 

- These were republished in 1801 by John Graham Dalzell, advocate. 


A ballad ridiculing the Protestant faith, and the English for 
embracing it, was in wide circulation, and some poetic parson 
was reputed to be its author. 1 The Scottish nobles, who had 
sold themselves to Henry, were celebrated in song as having 
been seduced by English angels. 2 Knox himself informs us 
that a servant of the Bishop of Dunkeld wrote a " despiteful 
railing ballad against the governor and the preachers, for which 
he narrowly escaped hanging. 3 

These metamorphosed ballads, which, from all accounts, 
had such an influence in fanning the devotional feelings of our 
fathers, would now be regarded as nothing but parodies. 4 But 
though these rhymes were rude and appear to us ridiculous, 
our reforming ancestors sung them with enthusiasm by 
their firesides, and preferred them to the noble litanies of 
the Roman Church, because they understood them. It were 
wrong to disparage their piety, though we may laugh at their 
poetry. Deep feelings may find vent in odd utterances. But 
beside these hymns there was already in existence a translation 
of many of the psalms, and one of these Wishart sung with the 

1 Letter from Sir Thomas Wharton to the Lord Privy Seal of England, 
23d December 1540, quoted in Dalzell's Cursory Remarks. 

2 "The Earl of Glencairn prayed me," says Sadler to Henry VIII., "to 
write to your Majesty and to beseech the same for the passion of God, to 
encourage them so much as to give them trust, for they were already 
commonly hated here, for your Majesty's sake, and throughout the realm 
called the English lords ; and such ballads and songs made of them, how 
the English angels (coins) had corrupted them, as have not been heard." 
(Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. p. 167.) 

3 Knox's History, book i. 

4 A few specimens will illustrate the religious taste of the times. There 
is one which shows the antiquity and transformations of a song still 
known : — 

Quho is at my windo'? who? who? 
Goe from my windo 1 ; goe, goe, 
Quha calles there, so like ane stranger? 
Goe from my window, goe. 

Lord I am heir, ane wratched mortall, 
That for Thy mercie dois crie and call. 
Unto Thee, my Lord celestiall, 
See who is at my window, who, &c, &c. 

This was understood to be purely devotional, but there were others which 
breathed a spirit of defiance to Rome. 

The Paip, that pagane full of pryd, 

Hee hes us blinded lang ; _ 

For where the blind the blind doe gyde, 

No wonder both goe wrang. 

Of all iniquitie. 

Like prince and king, hee led the ring. 

Hay trix, trim goe trix, under the green-wode-tree. . 


household of Ormiston before retiring to rest on the night on 
which he was seized. In general they adhere pretty closely to 
the sense of the original, but the versification is rough, and 
the language uncouth, although in some instances we have 
sentiments expressed with peculiar felicity. 

It is difficult to determine what proportion of the nation 
had embraced Protestantism before it was established by law. 
The first proselytes must have been among the priesthood and 
the upper classes. The great mass of the people could not 
read, and must have been grossly ignorant of all religion. The 
Church- service was mumbled in an unknown tongue, and their 
few ideas about Christianity must have been inherited from 
their parents, derived from pictures, or picked up from the 
conversation of the parson, or the sermons of the friars. It 
must be confessed that though the Bible had been all along 
allowed to the people, Bibles could not have been got, and 
though they had been got, there would have been few able to 
read them. Printing not only created books, but it gradually 
created a reading population. We need not wonder that the 
first and most urgent cry of the people when light began to 
dawn upon them was for preachers. They would have every 
bishop and parson preach. It was thus only they could learn. 

The blind bishop he could not preich 

For playing with the lassis; 

The silly frier behuifit to sleech 

For almous that he assis ; 

The curate his creid he could not reid, 

Shame fall the company. 

Hay trix, trim goe trix, &c, &c. 

Of Scotland well the friers of Faill, 
The limmery lang has lastit, 
The monks of Melrose made gude kaill, 
On Fryday quhen they fastit, <&c, &c. 

The following is in a more playful spirit : — 

God send every priest ane wife, 
And every nunne a man, 
That they may live that haly life, 
As first the kirk began. 

Sanct Peter, quhom none can reprufe, 
His life in mariage led ; 
All gude priests quhom God did lufe, 
Thair maryit wyfes Lad, &c, &c. 

So great was the influence of these ballads that the clergy framed a canon, 
ordaining every ordinary to search his diocese for books of rhymes or 
ballads scandalizing the clergy or the Church ; and in the fifth parliament 
of Mary an act was passed against printers printing "books concerning the 
faith, ballads, songs, blasphemations, rhymes, as well of Churchmen as 
temporal, and others, tragedies," &c, &c. 


Incapable of reading, and without books to read, they could 
yet listen, and from the living voice of the preacher acquire 
knowledge. The Reformers supplied the want, and by doing 
so overturned the papacy. 

It will at once be understood that the first proselytes to 
Protestantism could not be from such an ignorant population 
— a population that scarcely knew their right hand from their 
left. Accordingly all the early converts whose names have 
been recorded belonged either to the sacerdotal or the aristo- 
cratic caste. Almost all the nobles who were taken prisoners 
at the Solway Moss returned Protestants ; and in an age when 
feudalism was still strong, the faith of the lord would naturally 
become the faith of the retainer. But though the Reformed 
opinions were gradually spreading, as the acts of the parliament 
regarding heresy prove, still it is probable that even so late as 
1545 the bulk of the people continued attached to the ancient 
faith. Protestantism had allied itself with Henry and Eng- 
land, and Henry and England were regarded with bitter hatred 
by almost every Scotchman, excepting the few who had been 
seduced, as the taunt went, by the English angels. At the 
time when Cardinal Beaton was assassinated, it is evident that 
all St Andrews was devoted to him. Knox speaks of Edin- 
burgh about the same period as being drowned in supersti- 
tion. 1 

But during the next fifteen years it is certain the Protes- 
tant opinions made great and rapid progress among all classes 
of people. During the same period there was also a change in 
the popular feelings in regard to England. The rout of the 
Solway and the slaughter of Pinkie were forgotten ; the pre- 
sence of French garrisons in different parts of the country had 
led to jealousies and disputes ; it was felt hurtful to the 
national pride to see foreign troops employed to preserve peace 
and punish disorders, and the populace began to clamour as 
anxiously for their removal as they had a few years before 
cried for their help. Protestantism and England now rose to 
the ascendant. The great crowds who attended the sermons 
of the Reformers, the mobs who attacked and demolished the 
monuments of idolatry, incline us to believe that when the 
Protestant confession was accepted by the parliament, it had 
already become the creed of the majority of the nation. 

We have thus viewed the Roman Church in our country 
before its fall, and we shall confess that we have viewed it with 

1 History, book i. 


feelings in which exultation has been softened by sadness ; we 
have viewed it as we would a great though wicked city, be- 
leaguered by armies, with its bulwarks already undermined, and 
a whole park of artillery pointed against its palaces, ready with 
the morrow's sun to vomit forth fire, destruction, and death. 


The murder of Beaton made way for the promotion of Hamil- 
ton, Bishop of Dunkeld and Abbot of Paisley, to the primacy. 
He was nominated to the archbishopric by his brother the 
governor, elected by the canons, and readily confirmed by the 
Pope. But it was not so easy for him to get possession of his 
archiepiscopal castle. The conspirators who held it welcomed 
within its walls all who were in danger of their lives from their 
disaffection to the government or their favour for the Reforma- 
tion ; and it was soon sufficiently garrisoned by a band of de- 
termined men, who bid defiance to all Scotland. In the month 
of June, a summons was issued against the assassins, to which 
the Earl of Huntly, the new chancellor, appended the great 
seal. In the month following, after some ineffectual attempts 
at negotiation, the parliament, upon their non-appearance, de- 
clared them guilty of treason, and preparations were made for 
laying siege to their stronghold. 1 But the governor was utterly 
destitute of military vigour ; though artillery was in use, 
Scotchmen had not yet learned how to employ it with skill 
and effect, and after several months of idle effort, little or no 
progress was made towards reducing the fortress. 

The hopes of the besieged were centred in England ; and 
as the sea was open to them, they despatched Kirkaldy of 
Grange, John Leslie, and Balnaves to Henry VIII., to solicit 
his assistance. Notwithstanding that the kingdoms were at 
peace, Henry at once promised his aid, and showed that he 
was in earnest by forwarding both money and victuals for the 
garrison. The principal assassins he rewarded with pensions ; 
the Master of Rothes got ^250, Kirkaldy of Grange ^200, 
and others of less note got smaller sums. 2 Thus supported, 

1 Acts of the Scots Parliament, 1546. The Kirkmen were to be 
assessed for the expense of the operations. 

- Privy Council Records, February 6th (1547). Fronde's History, vol. 
v. p. 31. 


they held out till the end of December, when an armistice was 
agreed upon, in which they consented to surrender the castle 
on procuring a free pardon and a papal absolution for the 
slaughter of the cardinal. This last condition they insisted 
upon, not from any respect they themselves had for Roman 
favours, but because Churchmen had maintained that no par- 
don could be binding for so great a crime unless it were backed 
by an absolution from the Pope. It soon became apparent 
that neither party were in earnest, and that they merely wished 
to gain breathing time. Arran had already despatched an 
envoy to France, entreating its monarch to use his influence 
with Henry for the preservation of the existing peace between 
the kingdoms, and to send him without delay some experienced 
engineers to assist in the reduction of the castle. The con- 
spirators, on the other hand, despatched a messenger to Henry, 
declaring they had no intention of abiding by the treaty, and 
actually asking him to write to the Emperor that he might per- 
suade the Pope to refuse the absolution. 1 

Meanwhile the Castilians, as the keepers of the castle were 
commonly called, held their fortalice, but they no longer con- 
fined themselves within its walls. They visited the town and 
the neighbourhood ; and all history declares that they dis- 
graced the sacred cause, of which they professed to be the 
champions, by brutal immorality. John Rough, formerly 
mentioned as chaplain to the Regent Arran before he aposta- 
tized, had already sought refuge in the castle, and had in- 
dignantly denounced the outrages upon decency committed by 
the garrison ; but it was in vain. A man of sterner stuff, and 
destined to play a more conspicuous part in the history of the 
times, now appeared at St Andrews, and threw in his lot with 
the conspirators. It was John Knox. 

This remarkable man, whose name has so long been a house- 
hold word in Scotland, was born near the Nungate of Had- 
dington in J 505. His parents appear to have been wealthy 
enough to give him a learned education, and to have early 
destined him for the Church, which was then the only field for 
ability and ambition. Having passed through the grammar 
school of Haddington, he was in 1522 matriculated in the 
University of Glasgow, where the celebrated John Mair was 
then regent. He appears to have taken priest's orders at an 
early age, and to have acted as a notary, as many of the clergy 

1 Tytler, vol. vi., who quotes a MS. in the State-paper Office. 


then did; 1 but we are almost entirely ignorant of his history 
till we find him in the company of Wishart the martyr, imme- 
diately before his martyrdom. At that time, and when he 
entered the Castle of St Andrews, he was acting as tutor to the 
sons of the Lairds of Ormiston and Longniddry, and had com- 
pleted his fortieth year. Was it these lairds, with their strong 
English proclivities, who gave to Knox's mind its future bent, 
and made their quiet tutor the greatest man of his day ? Or 
was it because he was known to hold similar sentiments to 
their own that he was admitted to their families, and entrusted 
with the education of their boys ? It was a strong step for the 
obscure ecclesiastic to take — to join the murderers of the 
cardinal, the desperadoes who held his castle against the go- 
vernment of the country ; but he acted with the approval of 
his patrons, and carried his pupils along with him. He says 
he sought the Castle to escape persecution, and probably there 
was good cause for the Lairds of Ormiston and Longniddry 
wishing to have their boys in a place of temporary safety, as the 
former of these, at least, was probably connected with the con- 
spiracy to assassinate the cardinal. 

During the continuance of the truce, Rough had frequently 
preached in the parish church of St Andrews, and having 
uttered sentiments opposed to the Established faith, Dean 
Annan entered the controversial lists with him. It would ap- 
pear that Rough was scarcely a match for the Dean, for Knox 
states that, though orthodox, he was not learned, and that 
accordingly he saw it needful to go to his rescue, and with his 
pen beat the papist from his defences. 2 This theological en- 
counter, and Knox's well-known talents and vigour, led the 
leading men in the castle to resolve among themselves to call 
him to assume the office of a preacher of the Protestant faith. 
Several of them spoke to him privately of the matter, but he 
steadfastly resisted their solicitations, " alleging that he would 
not run where God had not called him, meaning that he would 
do nothing without a lawful vocation." 8 Failing in this way, 
they resolved to try another. 

One day Rough ascended the pulpit and preached a sermon 
upon the election of ministers, of which the chief argument 
was, that a congregation, however small, had power, in time 

1 In the charter chest of Lord Haddington there is a document written 
out and signed by Knox in 1543. He designs himself "Minister of the 
Sacred Altar, and Notary by Apostolic Authority." 

- Knox's History, book i. ' 6 Ibid. 


of need, to call any one in whom they discerned the gifts of 
God to be their minister ; and that it was dangerous in any 
one to refuse such a call. Having established these principles, 
he suddenly turned to Knox, who was present, and said : — 
" Brother, ye shall not be offended, although that I speak 
unto you that which I have in charge, even from all those 
that are here present, which is this : In the name of God, 
and of his Son Jesus Christ, and in the name of those who 
call you by my mouth, I charge you that you refuse not this 
holy vocation ; but as ye tender the glory of God, the increase 
of Christ's kingdom, the edification of your brethren, and 
the comfort of me, whom ye understand well enough to be 
oppressed by the multitude of labours, that ye take upon you 
the public office and charge of preaching, even as ye look to 
avoid God's heavy displeasure, and desire He shall multiply 
his graces upon you." Then turning to the congregation he 
asked — " Was not this your charge to me ? and do you not 
approve this vocation ? " They replied with one voice — " It 
is, and we approve it." " Whereat the said Mr John, 
abashed, burst forth in most abundant tears, and withdrew 
himself to his chamber ; his countenance and behaviour from 
that day till the day that he was compelled to present himself 
in the public place of preaching sufficiently declared the grief 
and trouble of his heart ; for no man saw any sign of mirth in 
him, neither yet had he pleasure to accompany any man for 
many days together." 1 

Such was Knox's call and ordination to the work of the 
ministry. These circumstances, narrated by Knox himself, 
have led some historians to the conclusion 2 that up to this 
time he was not in orders. He first refused to preach 
because he had no lawful vocation to do so — a plea which he 
could not use had he been already ordained. He afterwards 
agreed to undertake the work when Rough argued that every 
congregation had an inherent right to call any qualified person 
to assume the office of their instructor— an argument which 
would have been wholly irrelevant if Knox had been previously 
set apart by episcopal hands. 

We should have regarded these arguments as conclusive 
had we not had positive knowledge to the contrary, and a 
key to the apparent contradiction in a controversial tract pub- 

1 Knox's History, book i. 

- Dr Cook is constrained by these circumstances to come to this conclu- 
sion. (History of Reformation, vol. i.) 

A.D. 1547.] WAS KNOX A PRIEST? 223 

lished at the time of the Reformation, while Knox was yet 
living, and every circumstance in his career fresh in men's 
memories. Ninian Wingate was schoolmaster at Linlithgow, 
and remaining attached to the Roman faith, he proved his 
devotion by challenging discussion on some of the contro- 
verted points between the Romanists and Reformers. In 
one of his tracts he attempts to pose John Knox in regard 
to the lawfulness of his call to the ministry. He argues from 
Romans and Hebrews that no man may take this office to 
himself, unless he be called thereto either by God or by men 
having authority to do so. If Knox pretended he was called 
by God, Wingate asked where was the proof of it —where 
were his miracles? for nothing less could prove a Divine 
vocation. If Knox declared he was called by men, " then," 
says his opponent, " he must show they had the authority to 
do what they did." " You must show," urges Wingate, " in 
which of these two ways you were ordained to the ministry, 
since you esteem that ordination null and wicked by which 
you were formerly called Sir John." x Here is the solution 
of the difficulty. Knox was in priest's orders, and therefore 
entitled to be addressed Sir John, but he had renounced 
these orders, and believed that he had no title to preach the 
Gospel till he received a call from a reformed congregation. 
The " First Book of Discipline" corroborates the fact, for 
there it is declared " that the Papistical priests have neither 
power nor authority to minister the sacraments of Jesus 
Christ." 2 If we add to these circumstances the positive 
testimony of Beza, 3 we need have no hesitation in believing 
that Knox was a priest of the Romish Church : but that he 
did not think its orders constituted him a minister of the 
reformed faith. 

It has sometimes been affirmed that the first preachers of 
Protestantism in Scotland were laymen, and that from these 
the present Presbyterian ministers are descended. The very 
reverse was the case. Almost all the early Reformers had 
Romish orders. The Bishops of Galloway, Caithness, and 

1 Xinian Wingate, Tract ii., "Gif John Knox be lauchfull minister?" 
See also his third tract. They are to be found in the appendix to Keith's 
History. It need hardly be said in explanation, that the priests of the 
Church of Rome had " Sir " appended to their names, just as clergymen 
now-a-days have " Revd." Burton supposes Knox might have been de- 
posed, but the language of Wingate forbids that supposition. 

2 Book of Discipline, chap. xvi. sect. iii. 3 Beza — Icones. 


Orkney joined the Protestants. A multitude of abbots and 
friars did the like. Spottiswood, the superintendent of 
Lothian ; Winram, the superintendent of Fife ; Willocks, the 
superintendent of the West, had all been clergymen in the 
Romish communion. When Protestantism was completely 
established, and the want of Protestant preachers sorely felt, 
it would appear that priests became proselytes by the score, 
and only too many of them were admitted into Protestant 
pulpits. They afterwards gave trouble, some of them by 
immoral lives, and some of them by heretical teaching. 
If Romish orders, then, be worth any tiling, the Church of 
Scotland has inherited them ; and still possesses them by 
Episcopal-Presbyterian descent. But so little stress did the 
Reformers put upon episcopal descent, that they decreed in 
the Assembly of 1562, that bishops, like other ministers, could 
hold office in the Church only after being elected by the 
people and found qualified by the superintendent. Oh, 
Lucifer, son of the morning, how art thou fallen in these sad 
reforming times ! 

But though no mitred bishop had conveyed to one of our 
Reformers the Apostolical succession, though no one had been 
even ordained by the laying on of the hands of the Presby- 
tery, no honest Presbyterian minister need question the 
validity of his title as a minister of the New Testament. 
There are only two sources from which clerical authority can 
proceed — the transmitted commission of the first apostles, or 
the will of the Christian community. Either of these theories 
has had its advocates. It is an article of the Roman creed, 
and it has been a favourite dogma of many Anglican divines, 
that no one can be a true minister of the word and sacra- 
ments unless he can trace his spiritual pedigree up to the 
apostles of our Lord. Christ, say they, gave his disciples a 
commission to preach and baptize ; they conferred the same 
power upon others ; and so the priestly character and office 
have come down by direct descent to the present day. 
Every clergyman in Western Europe must be able to trace 
his genealogy to St Peter, the chief of the apostles, and the 
first Bishop of Rome. Except by inheritance, there is no 
other way in which the status of a minister of the New Testa- 
ment can be obtained. In opposition to this it is maintained 
by all Presbyterian, and by some Episcopal doctors, that 
the power of calling to the ministry lies essentially in the 
Christian Church itself. It is argued that under the gospel 

a.d. 1547.] ORDERS. 225 

economy there is no radical distinction between the clergy 
and the laity ; and that ministers are merely men appointed 
to act as rulers and teachers in the Church. They are, in no 
sense, mediators with God ; they have no special powers but 
such as the Church, as a matter of convenience, confers. ; and 
occupy no higher platform than the humblest believer. 
But though the vocation of ministers lies with the Church, it 
may, for the sake of order, be entrusted to its office-bearers. 
They may have committed to them by the whole- community 
the charge of seeking out men fitted for the sacred; work, and 
setting them apart to it. Still it is but a delegated power, 
which bishops or presbyteries may exercise, not from any 
virtue inherent in themselves, but from their position as the 
representatives of the Church at large. Such are the two 
antagonistic theories of orders ; and though a compromise 
between them has often been attempted., there is in truth no 
possible middle way. 

The controversy is similar to that which has been waged in 
regard to the right by which kings reign. Here also there 
have been two theories — the divine right of inheritance, and 
the will, expressed or understood, of the people. There are 
those who think, that simply because a man is his father's son 
he has a divine right to a throne ; but this scoffing age is dis- 
posed to laugh at such assumptions, and believe that all royal 
power rests upon the popular will. According to this theory, 
whatever the form of government there are times when the 
ordinary rules of succession must be broken and the popular 
will assert itself. Such was the time when John Knox was 
called to the office of the ministry by the Church at St 
Andrews : such was the time when William of Orange was 
placed upon the throne. 

It was not long till Knox brushed away his tears, and came 
forth from his chamber like a strong man rejoicing to grapple 
with superstition and sin. His first step showed the boldness 
of his genius. Mounting the pulpit of St Andrews, he under- 
took to prove that the Pope of Rome was the Man of Sin, the 
Antichrist, the Babylonish woman spoken of in Scripture. The 
noise of this reached the archbishop, who enjoined Winram, 
his sub-prior, to inquire into it. Accordingly, nine proposi- 
tions, supposed to embody heresy, were collected from his 
sermons, and made the subject of controversy. The discus- 
sion is preserved in the pages of Knox ; and when he claims 
the victory to himself, we may believe him, remembering the 

VOL. I. P 


goodness of his cause, and his undoubted powers as a 
logician. 1 

The success which had attended the preaching of the 
Reformers determined the clergy to imitate their example. It 
was therefore agreed that every learned man in the abbey and 
university should preach his Sunday about in the parish 
church, and that their sermons should be previously composed, 
in order to give as little offence as was possible. But Knox 
suspected the cause of this new-born zeal, and in his ministra- 
tions during the week, he " prayed to God that they should 
be as busy in preaching when there was more want of it than 
there was then." 2 

But the din of the ecclesiastical warfare was 
hushed by the sudden appearance in the bay of 
twenty-one 3 French galleys, commanded by Leo Strozzi, Prior 
of Capua, a Knight of Rhodes of great military renown. Two 
or three weeks previous to this, the papal absolution had 
arrived from Rome ; but as it contained the clause, " we 
pardon the unpardonable sin/' the conspirators objected to its 
terms, and made use of a quibble to escape from their agree- 
ment. A worse fate awaited them. The galleys took up their 
position in front of the castle ; heavy ordnance was landed, and 
planted not only in the streets leading to the fortress, but on 
the walls of the abbey and the steeple of St Salvator's College ; 
not a creature could move in the interior courts without being 
exposed to its fire ; the walls began to crumble, and it became 
evident that it was no longer Scottish engineers who were 
working the guns. Meanwhile, John Knox within lifted up 
his prophetic voice, warning the debauched garrison that their 
hour was come, and that the thick walls in which they put 
their trust would be but egg shells ; and his prediction was 
soon realized. Further defence soon became hopeless, and 
accordingly the fortress was surrendered to the admiral of the 
French, as the conspirators had contrived to persuade them- 
selves that there was no lawful authority in Scotland. 

After being first rifled of its treasure, the noble old castle 
was levelled with the ground — either from superstition, as 
being stained with the blood of a cardinal, or from policy, as 
being dangerous to the kingdom. 

Historians differ in regard to the terms of the surrender, 

1 Knox's History, book i. 2 Ibid. 

3 wSome authorities say sixteen, others twenty-one — the difference is im- 

a.d. 1547.] somerset's invasion. 227 

some affirming that the lives and liberty of the garrison were 
guaranteed, and others that even their lives were made to 
depend on the mercy of the French king. The latter is the 
more probable and the better supported by authorities. 1 But 
be this as it may, they were carried to France; some of them 
were placed in the galleys to tug at the oar, and others were 
consigned to the prisons of Rouen and its neighbourhood. 
Knox was compelled to labour for nineteen months as a 
galley-slave, but he was ultimately liberated, and not one of 
his associates suffered death. When we remember that the 
crimes in which they were implicated were murder and re- 
bellion, we must allow that they were mercifully dealt with. 

It was in the end of July 1547 that the Castle of St Andrews 
fell. In the January preceding Henry VIII. of England had 
died, and two months afterwards he was followed to the 
grave by his illustrious compeer Francis I. But the English 
monarch had bequeathed to his successor the resolution to 
subdue Scotland under the cloak of a marriage with its infant 
queen ; and the Protector Somerset was already on his march 
to the north. At this crisis, Arran, easily alarmed, was com- 
pletely stunned, as any man might be, by discovering among 
the papers of Balnaves, in the Castle of St Andrews, a docu- 
ment containing the signatures of two hundred noblemen and 
gentlemen who had secretly sold themselves to England, and 
undertaken to assist Somerset in his marriage project, perhaps 
ignorant that under this guise he was reviving the designs of 
Edward I., and bent on the entire subjugation of the kingdom. 2 
Notwithstanding these discouragements the military array 
of the kingdom was quickly mustered. A large number of 
priests and monks, knowing that the Church was in danger, 
joined the army, bearing a white banner, on which there was 
embroidered a female with dishevelled hair, kneeling before a 
crucifix, with the motto — " Afflictce Ecclesicz ne obliviscaris.* 
On the other hand, on the 8th of September the Three 
Estates passed an act, which, proceeding upon the preamble 
that " the whole body of the realm is passing forward at this 
time to resist our old enemies of England," ordained that the 
next of kin to all Churchmen who should die in battle would 

1 We have Lesley on the one side, and Knox on the other. Tytler 
quotes Anderson's MS. History as siding with Lesley. Buchanan is ob- 
scure, but he appears to confirm the truthfulness of Lesley ; he says their 
safety was covenanted for, in a manner, or tinder a condition. It is plain 
the French admiral was in a position to dictate what terms he pleased. 

2 Tytler, vol. vi. Froude, vol. v. pp. 32-46. 


have a right to their vacant benefices. 1 On the ioth of the 
same month the battle of Pinkie was fought — one of the most 
disastrous in the annals of Scotland. More than ten thousand 
Scotchmen on that fatal day bit the dust ; and the whole 
country lay bleeding at the mercy of the English. 

Fortunately for Scotland's independence Somerset was 
unable from want of resources to follow up his victory with 
vigour ; while grief, shame, and rage rendered any alliance 
with England at present impossible, and threw the country 
more completely into the arms of France. The Protector 
having tried the sword, now, when it was too late, tried per- 
suasion. In an address to the Scottish nation, he declared 
that England desired union and not conquest, and remarked 
almost in a prophetic strain, that if the Scots and English 
were made one by amity, " having the sea for a wall, mutual 
love for a garrison, and God for a defence," they might defy 
the world. 2 But the Scots could only think of the slaughter of 
Pinkie Cleugh and thirst for revenge. In June 1548 Monsieur 
D'Esse landed at Leith with five thousand men, " old beaten 
soldiers," says Balfour, " French, Italians, and Germans." 3 
John Knox, as a condemned convict, worked an oar in one 
of the galleys which brought them over the sea. The governor 
joined these with five thousand more, and the allied armies 
were now more than able to keep their ground against the 
English. The French king, in his message, had solicited Mary 
in marriage for the Dauphin, and the Scottish Parliament 
readily agreed to the match, and farther resolved, in the 
unsettled state of the kingdom, to intrust her to his care. 
Four galleys quietly left Leith, and slipping round the north of 
Scotland by the Pentland Firth, arrived in the Clyde off Dum- 
barton. The Queen of Scotland, now a beautiful child in her 
sixth year, instantly embarked, accompanied by Lords Living- 
stone and Erskine, and her natural brother, James Stewart, 
Prior of St Andrews, at this time a youth of seventeen. There 
were also in her train four Maries, of like age with herself, 
chosen from the families of Livingstone, Seaton, Beaton, and 
Fleming, to be her playmates, and whose names are frequently 
allied with that of their royal mistress in the ancient ballads of 
the country. The little squadron reached Brest in safety, and 
Mary Stewart opened her eyes upon the beautiful land which 
she ever afterwards loved so well. The decision of the Parlia- 
ment can hardly be blamed, but it had the effect of making the 

1 Acts of the Scotch Parliament — Mary, pari. iii. 

J Holinshed's Chronicle. 8 Annals, vol. i. 


Queen of Scots already half a Frenchwoman by blood, a 
thorough Frenchwoman in heart. 

In March 1550 a peace was concluded at Boulogne between 
England and France, in which Scotland was comprehended ; 
but though war ceased, animosities remained, and rendered 
more difficult than ever the union of the crowns. Had it not 
been for the violence of Henry and Somerset, Mary, with a 
kingdom for her dower, must have become the wife of Edward ; 
but as time afterwards revealed, their happiness could not have 
been long, and the Queen of Scotland must have been a widow 
in England even sooner than in France. 

In the meantime the queen-mother had set her heart upon 
the regency, and in order to mature her schemes she set out 
for the court of France. Her brothers, the Cardinal of Lor- 
raine and the Duke of Guise, if not the originators of the plot, 
at once perceived that its accomplishment would further their 
own family aggrandisement, and secure the ascendency of the 
French interests in Scotland, and therefore they gave it the 
full weight of their great authority. To dispossess the Earl of 
Arran by violence would have been madness, and therefore 
they resolved to try bribes — dazzling bribes. Panter, Bishop 
of Ross, and two others, were despatched to the governor, to 
offer him the French dukedom of Chastelherault, and to his 
eldest son the command of the Scots Guard in Paris, if he 
demitted the regency ; and after considerable hesitation his 
consent was obtained. This great step toward dominion 
being made, the queen-dowager began her journey homeward, 
passing through England, and visiting on her way the court of 
Edward. The young king, amid much kindness, referred to 
his disappointment in regard to her daughter ; but the queen- 
mother rejoined, that the invasion of Somerset was not the 
right way to woo and win a woman, and that it was only on 
this account the match had miscarried. 1 

Arran had promised to resign the regency, but he had since 
repented him of his promise. Accustomed to the power and 
splendours of royalty, he could not bring his mind to descend 
to a private station. Mary of Guise quietly " bided her time;" 
employed every artifice to draw the nobles to her party; kept 
regal state at Stirling ; and at last Arran, finding the tide 
running strongly against him, consented to resign, on receiving 
an assurance of indemnity for every measure of his govern- 
ment, and an act of parliament securing to him the succession 

1 Keith, book i. chap. v. 


to the throne in the event of the queen dying childless. 1 On 
the 1 2th of April 1554, the solemn transference of power took 
place in a parliament assembled at Edinburgh ; and Mary of 
Guise attained to the full height of her ambition, by being de- 
clared regent of the kingdom. 

But we must retrace our steps for a few years, and follow the 
current of ecclesiastical events. It was plain that the tide was 
now steadily setting in toward a reformation. On the 19th 
March 1547, the clergy presented a supplication to the 
governor and council, complaining of the increase of heresy, 
the contempt of the sacrament of the altar, the return of per- 
sons who had been banished for their faith, and the open 
preaching of opinions opposed to the Established Church ; and 
praying that steps should be taken to remedy the evil. In 
compliance with this supplication, the council ordained that 
the clergy should report to the governor all such as had 
relapsed or were suspected of heresy, in order that the laws of 
the realm might be put into execution upon them. 2 

In 1549 a council was held in the Blackfriar's Church, Edin- 
burgh, under the presidency of Archbishop Hamilton. The 
pressure of the times caused a great gathering — six bishops, 
two vicars-general, fourteen abbots, priors or commendators, 
besides doctors, provosts, archdeacons, deans, and others — in 
all some sixty persons. Among them was the prior of St 
Andrews — then only eighteen years of age— destined to be the 
leader of the Reformation and the regent of the kingdom. 
There were there also Robert Reid, Quintin Kennedy, John 
Winram, and John Mair — all men of note. It passed no fewer 
than sixty-eight canons, which let in the light of day on a sad 
state of things. The very first of them makes it plain that large 
numbers both of the higher and inferior clergy were celibate 
only in name ; they had concubines and families living openly 
with them in their episcopal palaces and manses, and they were 
in the habit of making provision for these out of the Church's 
lands and revenues. The council forbade this in the words of 
the Council of Basle, perhaps to turn away the sharp edge of 
the condemnation from themselves, and to show they were no 
worse than others. Canons were also framed to promote the 
better education and more decent behaviour of the clergy, pro- 

1 Keith, book i. chap. v. 

2 Keith, book i. chap. vi. Robertson's Concilia, pref. cxlvi. In June 
1546, an act of Privy Council was passed against the demolition or plunder- 
ing of churches or Churchmen's houses. The necessity for the act proves 
the existence of the crime. 


viding among other things that they should cleanly shave 
their faces and crowns, wear ecclesiastical garments, and put 
off their hats when engaged in divine service. Pluralities were 
to be limited, preaching enforced. It was to be usually expo- 
sitory and catechetical ; and, in some cases, argumentative and 
denunciatory against the new doctrines. No doubt a reform- 
ing synod, but it could not move faster than Rome and Trent ! 
At the same time diligent inquisition was to be made for all 
heretics, and for their railing ballads and books. 1 

It was not long after the dispersion of this 

&.d. 1550. counc ii w hen Adam Wallace, who appears to 
have succeeded Knox as tutor at Ormiston, 2 was apprehended 
at Winton, and brought to his trial in the Church of the Black- 
friars in Edinburgh. Among his judges, besides the Governor 
and Chancellor, we are surprised to find the Earls of Argyll, 
Angus, and Glencairn. 3 He was accused of usurping the office 
of a preacher ; of baptising, one of his own children ; of deny- 
ing purgatory ; of maintaining that prayers to the saints and 
for the dead were superstitious : of calling the mass an idola- 
trous service ; and of affirming that the bread and wine used 
in the sacrament continued bread and wine, notwithstanding 
their consecration. The poor man was found guilty, given over to 
the Justice-Deputy, and burned the next day on the Castle-hill. 

It was in the same year in which Wallace was burned that 
an amusing controversy arose among the Churchmen in regard 
to the Pater-noster — whether it should be said to God only, 
or whether it might also be said to the saints. A certain friar 
had stretched his ingenuity to show that everyone of its 
petitions might, in a sense,, be addressed to the saints ; but 
when he came to " Give us this day our daily bread," his gloss 
was so absurd as to throw his audience into laughter. He was 
rewarded for his pains with the soubriquet of Friar Pater- 
noster. But the dispute w r as not thus easily to be settled ; it 
set the whole University of St Andrews in a flame. The 
doctors assembled in solemn conclave to decide the matter. 
The fine distinctions of the schoolmen were called into requi- 
sition ; and some held that the Pater-noster was said to God 

1 Robertson's Concilia, vol. ii. pp. 81-127. 

2 "He frequented," says Knox, "the company of the Lady Ormiston, 
for the instruction of her children, during the trouble of her husband, who 
was then banished." (History, book i.) 

3 Knox's History, book i. Knox states that Glencairn said to the Bishop 
of Orkney and others that sat near him, that he protested against Wallace 
being put to death. This whispered protest does not redeem his con- 


formaliter, and to saints materialiter ; others, that it ought to 
be said to God principality, and to saints minus principaliter ; 
a third party would have it ultimate and non-ultimate ; a fourth, 
primario and secundario ; but the majority declared that it 
should be said to God capiendo stride, and to saints capkndo 
large. Still, the division of sentiment was so great and so strong 
that it was resolved to refer the whole matter to the provincial 
synod, which was cited to meet at Edinburgh in January 
1552. In the meantime, the valet of the sub-prior, in putting 
his master to bed, took the liberty of asking what was the 
nature of the question which had so irritated the university and 
the Church. "We cannot agree, Tom/' said the sub-prior, 
" to whom the Pater-noster should be said." " To whom 
should it be said but unto God?" said Tom, "Then what 
shall we do with the saints?" rejoined his master. "Give 
them Aves and Credos enough," replied the theological valet, 
" and that may suffice them. " 1 

When the synod convened, the controversy was again 
stirred : and the vote being taken, it carried that the Pater- 
noster might be said to the saints. The bishops, however, and 
some ecclesiastics more prudent than their brethren, interfered 
to prevent the decision being registered in this unqualified 
shape, and directed the sub-prior, on his return to St Andrews, 
to teach that the Pater-noster ought to be said to God, yet so 
that the saints ought also to be invocated? 

In January 1552 (1551 O.S.) this Synod met. In pro- 
found ignorance of what was passing around them, the 
ecclesiastics congratulated themselves that heresy was nearly 
stamped out, but confessing the want of education on the 
part of the clergy, and impelled by the universal clamour for 
instruction in the Scotch tongue, order was taken for publish- 
ing a Catechism in the vernacular, containing a summary of 
Christian doctrine ; and the clergy were enjoined to read a 
part of it every Sunday and holiday to the people, when there 
was no sermon. It was accordingly printed, as the colophon 
bears, at St Andrews, in August 1552, by command and at the 
expense of Archbishop Hamilton, whose composition it is 
thought by some to be, while others attribute it to John Win- 
ram. It is a Catechetical Treatise rather than a Catechism, 

1 Spottiswood's History, lib. ii. 

2 Spottiswood's History, lib. ii. Hailes's Provincial Councils, pp. 36-7. 
There is no such canon in the Synod of 1551-52, but in the Synod of 1549 
there was a canon regarding the Pater Noster, which after a few words ends 
in a blank. Robertson's Concilia, vol. ii. p. 121. 

A.D. 1552.] CHURCH SYNOD. 233 

in the modern sense of the term. 1 It consists of an exposition 
of the Commandments, the Creed, the Sacraments, and the Lord's 
Prayer. It would appear, from the canon authorising its publica- 
tion, that it was designed, not for circulation among the people, 
but to assist the clergy in conducting the church services, and 
in communicating to their hearers some knowledge of religion. 
They were accordingly ordered to exercise themselves daily in 
the reading of it, lest by stammering or breaking down alto- 
gether, they should make sport for their hearers ; and they 
were to be equally on their guard against reading it languidly 
or with yawning, but rather with such vigour of voice, facial 
expression and gestures, as should make the deepest impres- 
sion on the people. 2 From the eighth canon of this council 
it appears that a very small proportion of the population 
attended mass upon the Sundays, still fewer on the festivals, 
and that of those who came to church, some behaved irreve- 
rently, while others busied themselves with making bargains 
in the porch. It was like the time of which Pliny wrote, when 
in the great province of Bithynia so few were found to purchase 
the victims and present themselves at the sacrifices. The old 
religion was losing its hold, and all the superficial reforms of 
the synod could not restore its lost power. As Lord Hailes 
remarks, " when a house is in flames, it is vain to draw up 
regulations for the bridling of joists or the sweeping of chim- 
neys." 3 Was the church to be saved by the priests shaving 
their chins, cheeks, and crowns? or reading a catechism, 
arrayed in surplice and stole, but with difficulty spelling out 
the words as they went along, amid the jibes and jeers of the 
people ? 

1 The title of this significant publication is "The Catechisme : that is 
to say, ane Comone and Catholick instruction of the Christine people in 
materis of our Catholick faith and religioun, quilk na gud Christin man or 
woman suld misknaw : set forth be ye maist reverend father in God, 
Johne, Archbishop of wSanct Androis, Legatnait and Primat of ye Kirk of 
Scotland, in his provincial counsal, halden at Edinburgh the xxvi day of 
Januarie 155 1, with the advice and counsall of the Bischoppis and other 
prelatis, with doctoris of theologie and canon law of the said realme of 
Scotland present for the tyme." On the back of the title-page there is an 
admonition by the Archbishop to the " Vicars and Curattis of his Dio- 
cyce," "to have yis Catechisme usit and reid to their parishionours 
insteid of preching, quhil God of his gudnes provide ane sufficient 
noumer of Catholyk and abil prechouris quilk sail be within few yeiris, as 
we traist in God." 

2 Robertson's Concilia, vol. ii. p. 138. 

3 Hailes's Provincial Councils, pp. 29-37. To the council of 155 1 we 
owe the establishment of registers of proclamations of banns, and baptisms. 


In the acts of the parliament of 155 1 we have some indica- 
tions of the course of events. There are two acts against 
those who had sustained the process of cursing or excommu- 
nication. They were but resuscitations of acts formerly 
passed in the reign of James V. From the terms of these we 
learn that the Church had put its bann upon great numbers 
who were suspected of heresy ; that some of these had quietly 
continued under the curse, without any attempt to remove it, 
and that others had defiantly frequented the church, and even 
come to the altar, notwithstanding the excommunication under 
which they lay. To put an end to this state of things, the law 
interfered, and threatened confiscation of goods against all 
who remained under excommunication for more than a year, 
or who desecrated the sacraments or disturbed the faithful 
while the curse of the Church was still upon them. 1 

But there is another act, still more ominous ; it is anent 
them that disturb the kirk during the time of divine service. 
The statute is directed against all "who contemptuously make 
perturbation in the kirk in the time of divine service and 
preaching of the Word of God, preventing the same from 
being heard and seen by the devout people, and will not desist 
therefrom for any monition that the churchmen may use." 2 
The passing of such an act sufficiently proves the prevalence 
of the practice to which it refers, and he must have a strangely 
one-sided notion of toleration w r ho does not think that it was 
properly put down by the strong hand of the law. The act, 
after specifying different penalties for different classes of 
offenders, from the prelate and earl down to the " poor folks 
that have no goods," and who are ordained to be imprisoned 
for fifteen days, and fed on bread and water, concludes with 
directing deans of guild, kirk-masters, and rulers, "garleische 
bairnes that perturbis the kirk in manner foresaid." A singular 
commentary on this finishing enactment is found in a passage 
at the very commencement of Row's " History of the Church.'' 
He narrates that when a friar was preaching in Perth, on a 
Sunday in Lent, he was suddenly assailed by the hissing of all 
the boys of the grammar-school who were present. A com- 
plaint being made to the magistrates, the rector searched out 
the ring-leaders of the tumult, and when he was about to chas- 
tise a culprit, the urchin produced as his apology Lyndsay's 
"Satire of the Three Estates." Such a boy in our day would 

1 Mary, pari, iv., 29th May 1 551 ; pari, v., 1st February 1552. James 
V., pari. iv.. 7th June 1535. 

2 Mary, pari, v., 1st Feb. 1552. 

a.d. 1551-55.] ACTS AGAINST THE REFORMERS. 235 

be doubly whipped — whipped for possessing a book so grossly 
indecent, and whipped for disturbing any one, though he were 
a Mahometan or a Hindu, in the midst of his devotions. 

Another act was passed to restrain the liberty of the press, 
already become turbulent and troublesome. It sets forth that 
divers printers were daily printing books concerning the faith, 
ballads, songs, blasphemies, and rhymes, both of churchmen 
and laymen ; and therefore ordains that no printer " presume, 
attempt, or take in hand " to print any book, without first 
obtaining the necessary licence. 1 Thus early was the infant 
press put into irons. Shut out from the pulpit, the Reformers 
must have found it to be their most powerful auxiliary, speak- 
ing as it did with a voice which echoed from shore to shore. 
No marvel the frightened ecclesiastics attempted to gag it. 

While tracing the legislation with which the Church fenced 
herself round before her fall, we may refer to yet another act 
passed in the year 1555. It is aimed at " diverse insolent 
and evil-given persons, who, not regarding the law of God and 
the constitution of the holy Church, but in high contempt 
thereof, and to the great slander of the Christian people, eat 
flesh in Lent, and on other forbidden days." 2 All such lovers 
of flesh and despisers of the Church, were made Liable to the 
confiscation of their moveable goods, and if they had no goods 
to be confiscated, they might be imprisoned for a year and a 
day, and trained during that period to abstinence, h is easy 
to perceive that the constitutions of the clergy were beginning 
to break down under the popular pressure. Men were laugh- 
ing at Lent ; and doubting the virtue of fasting on a Friday. 

On the 6th of July 1553. Edward VI. of England untimely 
died, at the early age of sixteen. He was a sickly, but an 
amiable and intelligent boy, and had he lived a few years 
longer, a more complete reformation would have been effected 
in England. He was succeeded on the throne by his sister 
Mary, a bigoted Roman Catholic, who determined to restore 
the ancient order of things, and whose persecutions have 
gained for her with posterity the unenviable epithet of 
"bloody." With such a woman on the throne of England, 
and a member of the house of Guise wielding the sceptre of 
Scotland, Protestantism had much to fear. But light sprang 
out of darkness. It was the present policy of Mary of Guise 
to conciliate the adherents of the Reformed faith ; and when 
the fires of Smithfield were lighted, " they that were scattered 

1 Mary, pari, iv., 1st Feb. 1 55 1. 

2 Mary, pari, vi., 20th June 1555. 


abroad went everywhere preaching the Word," 1 as they had 
done once before when a persecution arose at Jerusalem. 
Many refugees from England sought shelter in Scotland. 
Among these was William Harlaw, originally a tailor in the 
Canongate of Edinburgh, but whose zeal had led him to become 
a preacher of the Reformation. While Edward lived he had 
laboured in England, but now he returned to his native 
country, and though he had little learning, he must have had 
talents and force of character, for he commanded influence 
and respect. Another was John Willock, a Franciscan friar, 
who had embraced Protestantism, and become chaplain to the 
Duke of Suffolk. On the accession of Mary he had fled to 
Friesland, where he practised medicine, and became favour- 
ably known to the duchess, by whom he w r as sent in 1554, 
and again in 1555, on missions to the queen-regent. On the 
last occasion he fixed his abode in Scotland, and became 
one of the most useful and honoured of the Reforming 

But in the minds of the people the Reformation in Scotland 
is centred in but one man, and that man now once more 
appeared upon the stage. When we last parted with Knox he 
was a convict on board a French galley, bound with a chain to 
a bench in the hold, toiling at an oar side by side with 
thieves and murderers. Sometimes he lay on the quiet waters 
of the Loire, and at other times he was tossed by the incessant 
jumble of the German Ocean ; and once, while riding off the 
coast, between the Friths of Forth and Tay, observing the 
movements of the English fleet, he could distinctly see the 
shores of his native land, and the tall steeple of St Andrews, 
associated in his mind with so much that was sacred, and with 
those stirring scenes in which he had been an actor. On the 
conclusion of peace, and at the intercession of Edward of 
England, he was set at liberty, after a captivity of more than 
a year and a half, emaciated in body, but unshaken in mind. 2 
With his native country barred against him, he landed in 
England, and acted as a minister in the English Church, first 
at Berwick, and afterwards at Newcastle, and when thus 

1 Acts of the Apostles, chap. viii. ver. 4. 

2 " I have at your request," said the French king to Mason, "set at 
liberty the Scots which else, by yon sun, should have rotted in their 
prisons, so cruel was their murder. By my troth I cannot tell how to 
answer the world for lack of justice." Mason to the council, July 20th 
(1550), MS. France, bundle 9, State Paper Office. Froude, vol. v. p. 

A.D. 1554.] KNOX AND CALVIN. 237 

employed he wooed his wife, Marjory Bowes. He was after- 
wards chosen one of the chaplains to Edward VI., and being 
consulted about the Book of Common Prayer, which was 
undergoing a revision, he had sufficient influence to procure 
an important change in the communion office, " taking away 
the round clipped god, wherein standeth all the holiness of 
the papists," and substituting common bread. The Articles of 
Religion were also revised by his pen previous to their rati- 
fication by parliament. Thus he played an important part in 
the English Reformation. In consideration of his services he 
was offered the living of All-Hallows in London, and after- 
wards the bishopric of Rochester ; x but he declined them both, 
as the English Church had not yet attained to his standard of 
purity. The accession of Mary compelled him to flee for his 
life, with less than ten groats in his pocket. Setting sail for 
the Continent, he landed at Dieppe on the 28th January 1554. 

After some wanderings among the Helvetian churches, he 
settled at Geneva. Here was John Calvin, now at the very 
height of his reputation, and with him Knox soon formed a 
strict intimacy. It is pleasing to think of these two great 
Reformers walking together in the garden surrounding the 
house provided for Calvin by the State, where was a command- 
ing view of the Leman Lake, and a magnificent background 
of Alpine peaks. Though animated by the same spirit, and 
holding the same views, they were very unlike. Knox was a 
rough, unbending, impetuous man, but withal fond of fun, and 
full of humour. Calvin was calm, severe, often irritable, but 
never impassioned ; rising in pure intellect above all his com- 
peers, like Mont Blanc among the mountains touching the 
very heavens, yet shrouded in eternal snows. There is no 
doubt but that Calvin exercised a great influence upon the 
mind of Knox. Knox, though the older of the two, was but 
beginning his work ; Calvin's work was done. Knox was but 
rising into fame ; Calvin was giving laws to a large section of 

Knox left Geneva to take the charge of a congregation of 
English refugees at Frankfort, but he had scarcely entered 

1 "Northumberland offered it that he might be 'as a whetstone to quicken 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, whereof he had need ' ; and also to put an 
end to Knox's administrations in the north where he had habitually dis- 
obeyed the Act of Uniformity, and cared not to conceal his objections to 
the Prayer Book. Knox would not accept, and in a sermon he afterwards 
preached before the Court, spoke out his mind very plainly about Court 
and Church." Froude, vol v. p. 475. 


upon his duties when dissensions arose in regard to the use of 
a liturgy. When things were in this state, Dr Cox, who had 
been preceptor to Edward VI., arrived from England, and 
coming to church during service, he and some friends 
began to give audible responses to the prayers. Requested 
to desist, they declined to do so, and on the succeeding Sun- 
day one of them managed to get admission to the pulpit and 
read the litany. Knox could not stand this, and preached one 
of his characteristic sermons against the innovators. Religious 
rancour increased instead of abating. Knox was maliciously 
accused of treason against the Emperor and his daughter-in- 
law the Queen of England (inasmuch as he had called the one 
little inferior to Nero, and the other more cruel than Jezebel); 
and to escape trouble he was glad to quit Frankfort, and retire 
to his retreat on the shores of Lake Leraan. 

But now a longing to visit home came upon the exile. His 
mother-in-law had frequently written him to return • the Re- 
formation in Scotland was making progress, a leading man was 
wanted, and so he set his face homewards. He arrived toward 
the end of the harvest 1555, and after solacing himself for a 
few days at Berwick with his wife and his wife's relatives, he 
repaired privately to Edinburgh. Here he was entertained by 
a pious citizen of the name of Syme. 1 In his house the friends 
of the Reformation were accustomed to meet, and talk over 
their prospects and plans with the pale-faced, long-bearded 
man, whom they already acknowledged as their chief. A ques- 
tion arose which must be discussed and determined, for it 
affected the conduct of many of the Reformers. These, not- 
withstanding their Protestant principles, were accustomed still 
to go to the mass, and outwardly to conform themselves to the 
established religion. Knox lifted up his voice against this as 
a sinful compromise. He denounced it as a wicked com- 
pliance with an idolatrous practice. The matter began to be 
agitated from man to man, and Erskine of Dun, to set the sub- 
ject at rest, invited some leading men to supper, that in their 
presence the subject might be debated and decided. The 
chief opponent of Knox was young Maitland of Lethington, 
already distinguished for his acuteness and subtlety. Mait- 
land defended the practice as expedient in the circumstances 
in which they were placed, and quoted the instance of Paul 
resorting to the temple to pay his vow in company with Jews 
still unconverted. Knox answered that the temple service was 
of divine origin, and that the mass was not \ but further, he 
1 Knox's History, book i. 

a.d. 1555-6.] KNOX AND MAITLAND. 239 

boldly declared his doubt of the propriety of Paul having 
done as he did. No good came of it, but rather evil. 1 

Maitland was candid enough to confess that Knox had the 
best of the argument, and so he had. In such times and cir- 
cumstances very little is to be gained by compromises. The 
character and future career of both disputants is wonderfully 
brought out in this quiet disputation at the supper-table of 
Erskine of Dun. We see on the one side the inflexible Re- 
former, regardless alike of fear and of favour, never content 
with half-measures, crying, " Come out of her, and be ye sepa- 
rate." On the other side sits the clear-headed, quick-eyed 
secretary, bending to expediency, keeping friends with all, 
making the most of everything. The results of the contro- 
versy were important. The Reformers henceforward refrained 
from going to mass or taking any part in the Church-services, 
and it would appear that so numerous were they that the priests 
at once perceived their desertion. 2 The separation from the 
Established Church had already taken place. 

Among the nobles who at this time attached themselves to 
Knox, attending his sermons and helping him in his work, 
were the Earl of Glencairn, Lord Lorn, and the Prior of St 
Andrews, afterwards the celebrated Regent Moray. With 
these at his side, the Reformer need fear no evil. During the 
winter of 1555-6 he was indefatigable in preaching, not only in 
the capital, but in the provinces. Repairing to Kyle and 
Cunningham, where Glencairn was omnipotent, he preached 
the doctrines of the Reformation, as Wishart had done before 
him. Under the shield of Erskine of Dun he preached in 
Angusshire. At Finlaystone-house, at Easter, and in several 
other baronial houses afterwards, he administered the sacra- 
ment of the Supper, in the simple yet impressive manner in 
which it is now administered in the Scotch Church. 3 Rumours 
of all this flew through the country, and the clergy became 
alarmed. Here was a bold man doing a bold thing, and he 
must be quieted. Counsel was taken, an indictment prepared, 

1 Knox's History, book i. a Ibid. 

3 Knox's History, book i. It is possible, but by no means certain, that 
he used either the Genevan Book of Common Order, or the Liturgy of 
Edward VI., on these occasions. Ninian Wingate, in his second Tract, 
says upbraidingly : — ; 'Quhy cover ze zour table with a quhyte clayth at 
zour communioun ? Quhy cause ze utheris than the minister partlie to dis- 
tribut zour breid and wyne ? Quhy mak ze zour communioun afoir dennar ? 
Quhy use ze at zour communion now four, now three coupis and mony 
breids?" At Findlaystone House a pair of silver candlesticks inverted 
were used as cups at the first communion. 


and the heretical preacher cited to appear at the Church of 
the Blackfriars in Edinburgh, and answer for his conduct. 
Knox felt himself strong enough to obey, and his friends began 
to muster in the city, in order to be present at the trial, and 
see justice done. On the Saturday preceding the day fixed 
for the trial the summons was withdrawn, on the pretext that 
it was found to be informal, but it was shrewdly suspected that 
the stout face of the reformer and his friends had intimidated 
the bishops, and led them to sist procedure. 

Knox was resolved to take advantage of his position, and 
not retire from Edinburgh without striking a blow. On the 
very day on which he should have stood at the bar as a culprit, 
he ascended the pulpit and preached to the largest audience 
he had ever addressed. 1 At a subsequent meeting, held at 
night, the Earl Marischal was present, and was so impressed 
by the Reformer's eloquence that he joined with Glencairn in 
urging him to write a letter to the queen-regent, exhorting her 
not merely to protect the preachers, but to give heed to their 
doctrine. The letter was written, and presented by Glencairn. 
Mary of Guise read it, kept it in her possession for a day or 
two, and then handed it to the Archbishop of Glasgow, with a 
smile and a jest, saying, " Please you, my lord, to read a pas- 
quil." 2 The matter shortly became too serious for jesting. 

While the Reformation was thus making steady progress, 
Knox received an urgent letter from the English Church at 
Geneva commanding him as their chosen pastor to come to 
them, and he resolved to go. Argyll and others strongly urged 
him to remain in Scotland, where he was so much required ; 
but he would be gone, and despatched his wife and mother-in- 
law before him, as if he did not mean soon to return. 3 His 
conduct in this instance is difficult to account for, and has per- 
plexed all his apologists. Why should he leave his native 
country, where the Reformation dawn was steadily advancing 
to the perfect day, to take the charge of an obscure congrega- 
tion of refugees in a foreign city ? Perhaps the genial climate 
of Geneva, and quiet walks by its blue lake with the high- 
browed Calvin, allured him. In the midst of din and agita- 
tion, men often yearn for seclusion. It is much more probable, 
however, that he took advantage of the call from Geneva to 
escape from danger. The clergy had deserted the diet in 

1 Knox's History, book, i. 2 Ibid. 

3 He said to Argyll when pressed, " that if God blessed these small be- 
ginnings, and if that they continued in godliness, whensoever they pleased 
to command him, they should find him obedient." (History, book i.) 

a.d. 1556.] KNOX BURNED IN EFFIGY. 24 1 

May, but it was not at all likely they had entirely abandoned 
the idea of destroying one whose destruction was essential to 
their own safety. Both M'Crie and Tytler are of opinion that 
Knox fled to save his life. M'Crie recognises the finger of 
Providence in this passage of his history, preserving him for 
happier days. Tytler charges him with something like 
cowardice, using the language of the martyr, but lacking the 
spirit. 1 He forgets that in many cases " discretion is the better 
part of valour," and that he is but a fool who is too solicitous 
for the martyr's crown. If Knox was really in danger of his 
life, he was right to flee ; if he was no longer able to beard the 
bishops, he was wise to get out of their way. The safety of 
his friends was not compromised by his departure. He was 
the marked man, and before we brand him as a. coward we 
must hold that retreat is in no case allowable. 

Knox was no sooner gone than a summons, was issued 
against him. As the criminal on this occasion did not appear 
at the bar, the bishops occupied the bench. He was con- 
victed of heresy, condemned, and burned in effigy at the 
market-cross of Edinburgh. The whole affair was a foolish 
bravado, which might as well have been spared,. When the 
report of it reached the Reformer at Geneva, he wrote his 
" Appellation from the cruel and unjust sentence of the false 
bishops and clergy of Scotland." These different events were 
crowded within a short space. Scarcely nine months had 
elapsed since Knox's arrival from the continent, and only two 
since he was able to brave the Church instead of standing as a 
criminal at its bar. There had been a recoil. 

But though Knox's voice was no longer heard sternly 
denouncing idolatry, Scotland was not left without witnesses 
for the truth. John Douglas, a Carmelite friar, forsaking his 
order, became chaplain to the Earl of Argyll, and preached 
even at court against the prevailing superstitions. 2 Paul 
Methven, originally a baker, exercised a powerful influence 
upon Dundee. Others of less note laboured in other parts of 
the country. To put an end to this, the queen-regent, at the 
instigation of the clergy, issued a proclamation, citing them to 
appear and answer for their conduct. They prepared to obey, 
and their friends began to crowd toward Edinburgh. Dread- 
ing a tumult, the regent made proclamation that all who had 
come to the city without the express permission of the authori- 

1 History, vol. vi. 

2 Knox's History, book i. Keith, book i. chap. vi. 

VOL. I. Q 


ties should resort to the borders, and remain there for fifteen 
days. As the gentlemen of the west had just returned from 
border duty, they were in no humour to obey, and tumultu- 
ously forced themselves into the presence of the regent at the 
palace. When she would vindicate her proclamation, Chalmers 
of Gadgirth stepped forward, and in no very courtly style 
said, " We know, madam, that this is the device of the 
bishops who stand by you ; we avow to God we shall make a 
day of it. They oppress us and our tenants for feeding of 
their idle bellies ; they trouble our preachers, and would mur- 
der them and us ; shall we suffer this any longer? No, 
madam, it shall not be." 1 And therewith every man put on 
his steel bonnet, and began to finger about the hilt of his 
sword. The queen was intimidated, as she well might be, and 
was glad to get rid of the threatening barons by promising that 
their preachers would no more be disturbed. 

To this outburst of feudal independence there succeeded a 
period of tranquillity, and the nobles who favoured the Refor- 
mation resolved to recall Knox from Geneva. Accordingly 
they directed a letter to him, in which they spoke of " their 
godly thirst for his presence, and declared themselves ready to 
jeopard their lives and goods for advancing the glory of God." 
They informed him that the magistracy was much in the same 
state as when he left the country, but that no cruelty had been 
used against them, and that the friars were every day held in 
less estimation by the queen and the nobility. This letter was 
dated at Stirling on the ioth of March 1557, and subscribed 
by Glencairn, Erskine of Dun, Lorn, and James Stuart. 2 It 
was brought to Geneva by James Syme and James Barron, 
both burgesses of Edinburgh, and Knox having first laid the 
matter before his congregation and sought the advice of 
Calvin, resolved to comply with the invitation, and return 
home. In the beginning of October he proceeded to Dieppe, 
but while he waited there for a vessel to convey him to Scot- 
land, he received other letters which dashed all his hopes, by 
counselling him to remain where he was. 3 The Reformers 
had suddenly changed their minds ; they had come to the 
conclusion that it was better to enjoy the toleration which 
they had, than to peril it by seeking more, and thus, through 
faint-heartedness, had abandoned the project of a thorough 

1 Knox's History, book i. Keith, book i. chap. vi. 

2 Knox's History, book i. 3 Ibid. 

A.D. 1557-] THE FIRST COVENANT. 243 

Sitting down in his lodging at Dieppe, Knox wrote a letter 
to the lords whose faith had failed, after inviting him to come 
to their help. He referred to the sacrifices he had already 
made — he had severed his connection with his flock at Geneva 
— he had seen the eyes of many grave men weep when he 
took his last good-night of them — he had left his poor family 
destitute of all head, save God only. He acknowledged his 
belief that troubles would arise, but it was their duty to meet 
danger in so glorious a cause. He spoke of their position as 
feudal barons, and of the claims which their vassals had upon 
them ; and finally prayed that the mighty spirit of the Lord 
Jesus would rule and guide their counsels to His eternal glory. 1 
This letter was dated the 27th October 1557. With it he 
despatched another addressed to the whole nobility of Scot- 
land, and others to particular friends, as to the lairds of Dun 
and Pittarrow. In the meantime, he did not consider it pru- 
dent to venture into Scotland. It was a period of suspense — 
the fate of the Reformation depended on the issue. 

The letters of Knox had an immediate and powerful effect 
in stimulating the decaying zeal of the Reforming nobles. 
Like a fire stirred up just when ready to die out among its 
own ashes, it now burned more brightly than ever. Meet- 
ing at Edinburgh in the month of December, they drew up 
a bond which knit them into one body, pledged them to a 
definite line of conduct, and gave consistency and shape to 
their plans. They had separated from the Roman com- 
munion ; they now formed themselves into an opposing 
phalanx. This document is known in Scottish Church history 
as the first Covenant, and is so important that we give it 

"We, perceiving how Satan, in his members, the antichrists 
of our time, cruelly do rage, seeking to overthrow and destroy 
the gospel of Christ and His congregation, ought, according 
to our bounden duty, to strive in our Master's cause, even 
unto the death, being certain of the victory in Him. The 
which our duty being well considered, we do promise before 
the Majesty of God and His congregation, that we, by His 
grace, shall, with all diligence, continually apply our whole 
power, substance, and our very lives, to maintain, set forward, 
and establish the most blessed Word of God and His congre- 
gation ; and shall labour, at our possibility, to have faithful 
ministers, truly and purely to minister Christ's gospel and 
1 Knox's History, book i. 


sacraments to His people. We shall maintain them, nourish 
them, and defend them, the whole congregation of Christ, and 
every member thereof, at our whole powers and waging of our 
lives, against Satan and all wicked power that doth intend 
tyranny or trouble against the foresaid congregation. Unto 
the which holy word and congregation we do join us, and so 
do forsake and renounce the congregation of Satan, with all 
the superstitious abomination and idolatry thereof ; and, more- 
over, shall declare ourselves manifestly enemies thereto, by 
this our faithful promise before God, testified to His congre- 
gation by our subscription to these presents, at Edinburgh, the 
3rd day of December 1557 years. God called to witness — A., 
Earl of Argyle, Glencairn, Morton, Archibald, Lord of Lorn, 
John Erskine of Dun," &c. 

From the time that the Reformers had resolved to refrain 
from being present at mass, they had been in the habit of 
meeting among themselves for the purpose of worship. They 
generally assembled in private houses, and one of the number 
was chosen to read the Scriptures, to exhort them, and give 
utterance to their prayers. Roman controversialists l affirm 
that some lords and gentlemen administered the sacrament of 
the Supper to their own household servants and tenants ; and 
the " First Book of Discipline " gives countenance to the idea 
that such irregularities had occurred. 2 Elders and deacons 
were chosen to superintend the affairs of these infant com- 
munities. Edinburgh has the honour of having given the 
example, and the names of her first five elders are still pre- 
served. 3 The existence of these small Protestant congregations, 
scattered over the country, probably led the lords to employ 
the word so frequently in their bond, and this again led to 
their being called the Lords of the Congregation. It was a 
bold document to which they had thus put their names. It 

1 Ninian Wingate. His writings have been published by the Maitland 

2 " Where not long agoe men stood in such admiration of that idol 
the masse, that none durst have presumed to have said the masse but 
the shaven sort, the beast's marked men ; some dare now be so bold, as 
without all vocation to minister, as they suppose, the true sacrament in 
open assemblies ; and some idiots (yet more wickedly and impudently) 
dare counterfeit in their house that which the true ministers do in open 
congregation, they presume, we say, to do it in houses without rever- 
ence, without word preached, and without minister." (Fir^t liook of 
Discipline, chap. xvi. sect, i.) 

* M'Crie's Life of Knox. Period Fifth. 


was throwing down the gauntlet to all the powers of the exist- 
ing Church and State. It was a solemn repetition of their put- 
ting on their steel bonnets in the presence of the queen. It is 
easy to see the spirit of feudalism underlying the spirit of the 

General declarations are often intended merely for parade, 
and having served their purpose they are allowed to lie idle, 
but it was not so here. Immediately after the subscription of 
the Covenant, the lords who signed it, and those who concur- 
red with them, passed the following resolutions : — 

I. It is thought expedient, advised, and ordained, that in all 
parishes of this realm the Common Prayer be read weekly on 
Sunday and other festival days, publicly in the parish churches, 
with the lessons of the Old and New Testaments, conform to 
the order of the Book of Common Prayer. And if the curates 
of the parishes be qualified, that they read the same ; and if 
they be not, or if they refuse, that the most qualified in the 
parish use and read the same. 

II. It is thought necessary that doctrine, preaching, and in- 
terpretation of Scriptures be had and used privately in quiet 
houses, without great conventions of the people thereto till God 
move the prince to grant public preaching by faithful and true 
ministers. 1 

Resolutions like these were enough to make the clergy 
flock to the regent with complaints ; for here was a small knot 
of barons quietly setting aside the " Three Estates," usurping 
their power, and making ordinances affecting the whole realm. 
What title had they to order what was to be done in all the 
parishes of Scotland ? Who invested them with a commission 
to compel the curate to lay aside his missal, and adopt the 
Common Prayer-Book in its stead ? A body of dissenters so 
acting in our day would either be laughed at for their insol- 
ence, or punished for their treason. We cannot justify these 
Lords of the Congregation by any law or by any precedent ; 
and yet we must thank them for doing as they did, for we owe 
to them our religion and our liberties. Perhaps it was a pre- 
sumptuous sin in them assuming to legislate for both Church 
and State, but their legislation was such as to save both. But 
whatever we may think of the first resolution, the second un- 
doubtedly breathes a spirit of moderation. It shows that the 
Reforming nobles wished to avoid a collison with the State ; 
and perhaps we ought to interpret the first by the light of the 
1 Knox's History, book i. Keith, book i. chap. vi. 


second, and regard it as referring to what they were determined 
to bring about by constitutional means, rather than to what 
they designed to do by their own authority. At all events, 
they could carry it out only in those districts where they had 
feudal jurisdiction. Their mode of procedure is referred to in 
a letter from Cecil to Throkmorton, of 9th July 1559, from 
which we also learn that the Prayer-Book referred to was that 
of Edward VI. " The Protestants," says he, " are at Edin- 
burgh. They offer no violence, but dissolve Religious Houses, 
directing the lands thereof to the Crown, and to ministry in 
the Church. The parish churches they deliver of altars and 
images, and have received the service of the Church of Eng- 
land according to King Edward's book." 1 

The Archbishop of St Andrews, about this period, made an 
effort to detach the Earl of Argyll from the Congregation. He 
sent to him Sir David Hamilton with a friendly letter, and an 
elaborate memorandum, pointing out the disgrace which heresy 
would bring upon his ancient and honourable house ; counsel- 
ling him to dismiss the Protestant preacher he entertained as 
his chaplain ; and offering to provide him with a confessor of 
orthodox faith. Argyll was not to be moved. He answered 
the archbishop's memorandum minutely, but in a moderate 
spirit, adhering to the opinions and cause he had espoused. 
It was not long after this that he died ; but his son, a still 
more decided Reformer, succeeded to his influence in the 
Western Highlands. 2 

Unfortunately the Archbishop of St Andrews now resorted 
to sterner measures to stay the progress of the Reformation, 
and he put forth his hand, not upon a powerful baron, but 
upon a helpless priest, venerable for his piety and his years. 
Walter Mill had been the parish priest of Lunan, but during 
the primacy of Cardinal Beaton he had incurred the sus- 
picion of heresy, and sought safety in concealment. Deceived 
by the clemency of the queen-regent, he had now ventured 
from his hiding-place, and was apprehended at Dysart. 
When brought before the ecclesiastical tribunal at St Andrews, 
the old man appeared hardly able to stand, much less to 

1 Forbes's State Papers, i. 155, quoted in the Notes to Dr M'Crie's 
Life of Knox. There is afterwards quoted a letter of the same period 
from Kirkcaldy of Grange to Sir Henry Percy, which decides the con- 
troversy which was waged by Sage and Anderson regarding the book 
used, still more definitively. The fact is now beyond all controversy. 

2 Knox's History, book i. 

a.d. 1558.] MARTYRDOM OF MILL. 247 

defend himself; but when charge after charge was brought 
against him, he answered with such firmness as to show that 
an undaunted spirit could rise superior to all bodily infirmity. 
He was convicted of heresy ; but such was the commiseration 
for his fate, that no temporal judge could be got to pronounce 
upon him sentence of death, till a dissolute retainer of the 
archbishop performed the odious office. When led to the 
stake, his gray hairs and tottering steps excited universal 
sympathy. " As for myself," said the patriarchal martyr 
from amidst the flames, " I am fourscore and two years 
old, and cannot live long by the course of nature ; but a 
hundred better shall rise out of the ashes of my bones, and 
I trust in God that I am the last that shall suffer death in 
Scotland for this cause/' 1 His prayer was heard; he was 
the last. 

The names of twenty individuals 2 are recorded as having 
lost their lives in the long conflict between Popery and Pro- 
testantism in our country ; a small number when we consider 
that it was a life and death struggle between an ancient 
system deeply rooted in many hearts, and a new-born hostile 
faith, flushed with youthful vigour, and bent not merely on 
toleration but conquest. A much greater number might 
fall in an out-post skirmish or a midnight sortie, which 
would be deemed too insignificant to be mentioned in 
history. But while history may fail to mourn every hero 
who falls in battle, she will ever feel it her most sacred 
duty to pause and shed a tear on the martyr's grave. Men 
will never regard with equal veneration death defiantly met 
on the battle-field, and death calmly endured at the stake. 

1 Knox's History, book ii. Lindsay of Pitscottie, History. Keith, 
book i. chap. vi. Spottiswood's History, lib. ii. 

2 This is the sum of the names given by Fox the martyrologist, and 
others. M'Crie, in his Notes, tries to make it appear that many more 
were put to death for their religion ; that between 1534 and 1539 about 
sixty persons suffered death, banishment, or confiscation of goods, and 
many more not included in that period. He refers to the Treasurer's 
Accounts, and Register of Privy Seal, and other ancient records. We 
think it highly probable that many suffered fines, the confiscation of 
goods, and exile ; but we must still doubt if more, at least many more, 
than those we have mentioned suffered death. It is wrong to say that 
history has recorded the sufferings of the rich and distinguished only — 
several of those whose names have been preserved belonged to the 
poorer orders ; and piety in all ages has exhibited a peculiar solicitude 
to treasure up the tears and blood of the martyrs, so that we cannot 
believe many names have been lost. 


The hundreds of thousands who perished in the European 
wars which followed the Reformation are forgotten ; the 
memory of the martyrs is fondly cherished ; and it is right 
they should be held in everlasting remembrance. It is the 
silent protest of all generations against the horrid iniquity of 
putting a man to death, under the shadow of justice, simply 
for the opinions he may have held. And yet that a man 
should be punished, even to burning, for error in intellectual 
belief, is an opinion which still lingers in the world. It were 
folly to say that the smallness of the number of our martyrs is 
honourable to a Church which has stereotyped persecution in 
its creed ; but it is honourable to the moderation of the men 
who, at that period of the conflict, held in their hands the 
government of the country ; it is honourable to the humane 
genius of the Scottish nation. 

The death of Mill was followed by a strong reaction in 
favour of Protestantism. The inhabitants of St Andrews 
placed a cairn of stones over his grave, and every district of 
the country was canvassed for adherents to the Congrega- 
tion, which now began to feel its numerical strength. 1 While 
the blood of the people was up, it was resolved to present a 
remonstrance and petition to the regent. In this document 
the Protestant barons declared that such was the tyranny of 
the ecclesiastical Estate, that there remained for them 
"nothing but fagot, fire, and sword ;" that they ought, as a 
part of tire power of the realm, to have defended their 
brethren from cruel murder, and have given open testimony 
of their faith with them ; that they now desired to do this, 
lest their silence should afterwards be liable to misconstruc- 
tion ; and they concluded by petitioning her Grace — I. That 
it might be lawful for them to meet in public or in private 
for common prayers in the vulgar tongue, to the end they 
might grow in knowledge, and be induced in sincerity of 
heart to commend unto God the holy universal Church, the 
queen their sovereign, her honourable and gracious husband, 
the succession to the throne, her grace the regent, the 
nobility, and the whole estate of the realm. II. That it 
should be lawful for any person of sufficient knowledge to 
interpret any hard places of Scripture that might be read in 
their meetings. III. That baptism and the Lord's Supper 
should be administered in the vernacular, and the latter in 
both kinds. And, lastly, That the wicked and scandalous lives 
1 Keith's History, book i. chap. vi. 


of the clergy should be reformed, according to the rules con- 
tained in the New Testament, the writings of the ancient 
fathers, and the laws of Justinian, to which three they were 
willing to leave the decision of the controversy between them 
and the clergy. 1 

This petition was presented to the queen- 
• I SS - re g en t by Sir James Sandilands, Preceptor of the 
Knights of St John, a man of venerable years and un- 
blemished life, who had early attached himself to the prin- 
ciples of the Reformation. The queen received the petition 
with her usual benignity, and granted permission for the 
evangel to be preached and the sacraments administered in 
the vulgar tongue ; only she requested that, in the meantime, 
they should not preach publicly in Edinburgh or Leith ; and 
the Reformers, in turn, to show their gratitude and desire for 
peace, interdicted Douglas from preaching in the latter town, 
as he had intended to do. 2 Encouraged by the success of 
their application to the regent, the Lords of the Congregation 
resolved to bring the matter before a meeting of ecclesiastics, 
which was sitting in Edinburgh in the month of November 
1558. After some violent altercation, they seemed willing to 
grant that the gospel might be preached and the sacraments 
administered in the vulgar tongue, provided the mass, purga- 
tory, and prayers for the dead were retained. 3 It was well 
for Scotland that the Reformers did not accept of this com- 
promise ; and yet it was much for Romish ecclesiastics to 
offer. There must have been amongst them at the time a feel- 
ing of weakness, and a desire to patch up a compromise before 
all compromise became hopeless. 

The period for the meeting of parliament was now rapidly 
approaching. It had been cited to meet at Edinburgh toward 
the end of November ; and the Lords of the Congregation 
resolved to bring their grievances before it. Their petition 
concluded with the following specific requests : — I. That all 
acts of parliament empowering Churchmen to proceed against 
heretics should be suspended until a general council of the 
Church, lawfully convened, should decide the present contro- 
versies in religion ; and that, in the meantime, Churchmen 

1 Knox's History, book ii. Keith, book i. chap. viii. 

2 Knox's History, book ii. 

3 Lesley, Keith, and others, speak of a Council being held at this 
date ; but there is no record of it, and it was probably only an informal 
meeting of churchmen. 


should only be allowed to act as accusers before a temporal 
judge, and not to sit as judges themselves. II. That, in all 
cases of this kind, an authentic copy of the accusation and 
depositions should be allowed to the accused, and every 
defence competent in law permitted to him. III. That every 
party accused should be allowed to interpret his own mind 
and meaning, and that such interpretation should be held 
superior to the deposition of any witness whatever. Lastly, 
That none of the Congregation should be condemned for 
heresy, unless he should be convicted by the Word of God to 
have erred from the faith which the Holy Scripture witnessed 
to be necessary to salvation. 1 

These demands were first submitted to the queen-regent, 
whose good offices the Reformers were anxious to secure. 
"She spared not amiable looks," says Knox> "and good 
words in abundance ; but always she kept our petition close 
in her pocket/' 2 The Reformers urged her to bring it before 
parliament ; but she spoke of the unfitness of the time, the 
strength of the ecclesiastical Estate, and manoeuvred so 
cleverly that the parliament was dissolved without the peti- 
tion being so much as presented. The petitioners, however, 
publicly protested that it would be lawful for them to 
worship God according to their consciences, without incurring 
any danger of life and lands ; that should any tumult arise on 
account of religious- differences, the .blame of it should not 
be imputed to them ; and that their requests had no other end 
but the reformation of the abuses which had grown up in the 
Church. 3 

Up to this point, royal favour appeared to smile upon the 
Reformers. Mary of Guise almost seemed to have forgotten 
her family traditions and her country's faith, that she might 
foster the Reformation.. The Protestants carried all their 
sorrows to the foot of the throne, certain that they would be 
received with benignant smiles, and dismissed with most 
gracious assurances. The regent had a purpose to serve, which 
made her court the Protestants ; but when it was served, her 
countenance forthwith was changed. Her daughter was 
grown up to womanhood ; the conditions of her marriage 
with the Dauphin must be arranged ; and the friendly influ- 
ence of the Protestant lords was required. In truth, such 
are the strange caprices of state policy, that this Guisian 

1 Knox's History, book ii. Keith, book i. chap. viii. 

2 History, book ii. 3 Knox's History, book ii. 


queen was compelled to look to the Protestants rather than 
to the Papists for support. The Duke of Chastelherault 
regarded her with jealousy ever since she had supplanted 
him in the regency ; he regarded her with especial jealousy 
when dealing with matrimonial affairs, as she might supplant 
him in his hopes of succeeding to the throne ; and the Duke 
of Chastelherault, through his brother, the archbishop, had a 
powerful sway over the whole ecclesiastical body. She artfully 
played the Lords of the Congregation against the adherents of 
Hamilton ; and thus Protestantism, for a time at least, was on 
the royal and winning side of the game. 

In a parliament held on the 14th of December 1557, nine 
commissioners had been appointed to proceed to Paris, and 
be present at the marriage of the queen — the Archbishop of 
Glasgow, the Bishops of Ross and Orkney, the Earls of 
Rothes and Cassillis, Lords Seton and Fleming, the Prior of 
St Andrews, and the Laird of Dun. 1 The instructions to the 
commissioners were framed in a wise and patriotic spirit, and 
the commissioners discharged their trust faithfully and well. 
The open conduct of the French court was fair and honour- 
able ; but, veiled from the light of day, there had been per- 
petrated a deed of base and deliberate villany. The Scottish 
queen — a confiding girl of fifteen — was induced to sign three 
separate documents, by which she made over in free gift her 
kingdom of Scotland to the French king in the event of her 
dying childless. But all this was unknown at the time, and 
on the 24th of April 1558 the marriage was solemnised with 
extraordinary pomp in the Church of Notre Dame. When 
the days of feasting were ended, and the commissioners were 
on their way home, no fewer than four of them sickened and 
died at Dieppe. The thing was mysterious ; the Princes of 
Guise were regarded as skilful poison-seethers, and it was 
universally believed in Scotland that they had prescribed for 
the commissioners, although it was difficult to show what 
object they could have for their death. On the 29th of 
November 1558 a parliament was called to receive the surviv- 
ing members of the fatal expedition, and in this convention of 
Estates the queen regent managed parties so well as to get 
them to consent to bestow upon the Dauphin of France the 
matrimonial crown of Scotland. What more could the house 
of Guise desire, and had not their own diplomacy brought 
all these things to pass ? 

1 Keith, book i. chap. vii. 


But other events came crowding fast, and, with them, other 
plans began to develop themselves. On the 17th of Novem- 
ber 1558, Mary of England died, and resuscitated Popery died 
with her a second death. Her sister Elizabeth succeeded her 
on the throne, and, with a woman's true instinct of policy, 
placed herself at the head of the Protestants of Europe. But 
Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate by the parliament, 
and, Elizabeth out of the way, Mary of Scotland was the next 
heir to the English throne. The house of Guise wished to 
take the tide that leads to fortune at the flood. They per- 
suaded their niece to assume the title and arms of Queen of 
England and Ireland, and she did so. And now if Scotland 
could only be quieted.; if the Congregation could be coaxed 
to give up their foolish fondness for preachers, or if they could 
be forced into compliance by the tramp of armed men, it 
seemed impossible that Elizabeth could resist the odds that 
might be brought against her. With papal France on the 
south, and papal Scotland on the north, and hundreds of 
thousands of Papists in its own heart, might not the world 
behold with wonder Popery once more restored to England, 
amid the blazing of bonfires in which martyrs burned, and a 
daughter of Guise reigning by the Thames and the Liffy, as 
well as by the Forth and the Seine. All this was thought 
possible, and therefore the queen-regent no longer smiled 
upon the Protestants, but frowned, and threatened, and kept 
her French soldiers in drill, that they might use the last argu- 
ment if all others should fail. 

On the 2d of March 1559, a provincial synod assembled at 
Edinburgh to consider the state of the Church. There was 
laid before it a document which had been presented to the 
queen-regent on the part of some of the nobility, who apparently 
wished the reformation of the Church rather than its destruc- 
tion. It stated .that the canons of previous councils had pro- 
duced little or no fruit, and that the Spiritual Estate, which 
ought to be a mirror and lantern to the rest, "is deteriorate nor 
emends be ony sic persuasion as lies hedertells usit." It prayed 
therefore that the canons of former councils should be enforced 
against the clergy who were living scandalous lives ; that there 
should be preaching of God's word in every parish Church on 
the Sundays and holidays ; that none should be admitted to the 
ministry unless qualified, and able at least to read the Catechism 
distinctly and plainly ; that the prayers should be in the vulgar 
tongue ; that at the celebration of the sacraments, their nature 

a.d. 1559.] THE LAST OF THE COUNCILS. 253 

should be explained to the people in English ; that mortuary 
dues and Easter offerings should be made optional, and con- 
sistoria) processes shortened. The petitioners declared, at the 
same time, that no one should be allowed to speak irreverently 
of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, that no one 
should be suffered to take it upon himself to administer it, and 
finally, that no manner of person should destroy Church, 
Chapel, or religious place, or their ornaments, or innovate on 
the lovable ceremonies of Holy Kirk. A truly moderate and 
sensible petition. 

The Synod, with this document before them, and seeing 
that affairs were becoming serious, passed no fewer than thirty- 
four canons. They appointed a commission to enforce the 
canons against the immoralities of the clergy ; all churchmen, 
moreover, must be decently dressed and shaved ; the canonical 
hours must be said daily, and the mass at least every Sunday 
and feast-day ; Monasteries were to be inspected, Churches 
repaired ; bishops must preach at least four times a year in 
their dioceses, parish priests must preach oftener than four times 
a year if they were able to preach at all ; if they were not able, 
they must go to the public schools (in gymnasiis publicis\ and 
learn to do it, but if above fifty years of age they might pro- 
vide a substitute; the nature of the sacraments was to be 
explained to the people; mortuary dues were not to be 
exacted from the very poor ; and the sacraments, as ad- 
ministered by the reformers, were not to be recognised. 
There was silence about the prayers in the language of the 
people. But as the cry for instruction was every day becoming 
more clamorous, a short exposition of the mass was ordered to 
be published. 1 History condescends to relate that it was sold 
for two-pence, and therefore called in derision, " The Two- 
Penny Faith." 2 

Such were the canons of the last of the councils. They 
will remain to all time as a memorial of the state of the Scotch 
Church just before its reformation. Notwithstanding the 
decrees of previous Synods, in very many of the manses and 
episcopal palaces there were still unwedded wives and numerous 
families, and now these must be turned to the door, or, at 
least, smuggled away out of sight; so had the Synod ordained; 

1 Robertson's Concilia, vol. ii. pp. 151-75. 

2 Knox, book i., and Spottiswood, book iii. A Black Letter copy of 
this tract still exists. It is only four pages. It is republished in the 
Miscellany of the Ballantyne Club, vol. iii. p. 313. 


and inquisitors were appointed to see the thing done, with 
power to fine and even deprive of the benefice. It was the 
publicity of the thing ! Naked and not ashamed ! What 
were the wretched shavelings to do ? They must either break 
with Rome, or part with those who were dearest to them on 
earth. The enforced decrees of clerical celibacy had brought 
this to pass. Bishop Lesley, the Romish historian, affirms 
that many, especially among the younger clergy, preferred the 
former course and joined the Protestants, that they might keep 
their harlots under the name of wives 1 — an unworthy taunt, 
coming from such a quarter. But this was not all — the parish 
parsons must read the catechism and preach ; or, if they could 
not do so, they must go to school and learn. Poor old priests, 
up to fifty years of age, sent to school to learn to read and 
perorate, and all to please those horrid Calvinists, who were 
turning the world upside down ! They might shave a little 
cleaner, and put on their rochets, if that would save the 
church, but to go to school again ! Yet the Synod had decreed 
it, and was now determined to enforce it — for were not in- 
quisitors appointed? It was clear a crisis had come. The 
Synod was willing to go as far as it could, and if possible meet 
the Reformers half way, though it was obliged to evade the 
serious proposition as to the offices of the church being read 
in the vulgar tongue, as the Council of Trent had not yet 
decided the matter. But these half-measures came too late : 
the hurricane was already rising, which, in less than another year, 
was to strew the beach with the wreckage of the Roman Church. 
It was feared that the regent, to strengthen the resolutions 
of the Synod, might call the Protestant preachers to account. 
In these circumstances, the Earl of Glencairn and Sir Hugh 
Campbell of Loudon sought an interview with her Grace, to 
plead that their preachers might be protected so long as they 
preached sound doctrine ; but the regent declared that, 
maugre all they could do, their ministers should be banished, 
though they preached as soundly as St Paul. The barons 
took the liberty of reminding her of her promises. " The 
promises of princes," said the queen, " are no further to 
be urged than it suits their convenience to keep them." 
" Then," said the earl, " if you renounce your promises, we 

1 Non quidem ut conscientioe suae satisfacerent sed ut libidinem expleturi, 
scorta, uxorum titulo, impune deinceps foverent. Lesley De Rebus, &c., 
pp. 546-7. 


must renounce our allegiance." 1 The boldness of the feudal 
baron startled the finessing woman, and, lowering her tone, 
she promised to think of what could best be done to remedy 
what was wrong. 

Whatever meaning the regent attached to this general 
declaration, she was soon led to give a practical interpreta- 
tion of it. The town of Perth having given unequivocal 
symptoms of its attachment to the Reformation, she sent 
for Lord Ruthven, its provost, and charged him to put down 
the spirit of change. "I have power," said Ruthven, "over 
the bodies of the citizens, but none over their consciences." 
The queen told him he was too malapert to give her such 
an answer, and dismissed him in anger. 2 As Easter was 
approaching, she despatched able men to Montrose, Dundee, 
and Perth, to persuade the populace to keep the festival with 
the usual solemnities ; but their persuasions were powerless, 
and high mass was celebrated with few to join in it. 8 Failing 
in argument, she had recourse to violence, and summoned all 
the preachers in the kingdom to compear at Stirling on the 
10th of May. 4 They resolved to obey, and the gentry re- 
solved to accompany them, not armed, but still determined to 
protect men whom they deemed to be innocent. Angus and 
M earns were especially forward in this demonstration, and 
when the gentlemen from these counties arrived at Perth, they 
sent Erskine of Dun on to Stirling before them, to explain the 
cause of their coming. The regent got alarmed — for she 
seems in every menacing emergency to have had a woman's 
fears — and persuaded Dun to write to his friends to disperse, 
and that the summons would be withdrawn. In consequence 
of this, the preachers and their friends resolved to remain at 
Perth, and proceed no farther south. The ioth of May came, 
no preachers appeared, and the queen, forgetting her promise, 
commanded them to be " put to the horn " — a Scottish law- 
phrase, signifying "they should be declared rebels by the sound 
of the horn " — and all men prohibited, under pain of high 
treason, from holding any communication with them. The 
Laird of Dun, disgusted at the royal perfidy, left Stirling, and 
posted back to his friends in Perth. 5 

1 Knox's History, book ii. Keith, book i. chap. viii. 2 Ibid. 

3 Knox's History, book ii. 

4 Lesley says that Knox, Willock, Douglas, and Methven, only were 
summoned. (De Rebus, &c, lib. x.) It is probable there were not 
many more professed preachers in the whole country. 

5 Knox's History, book ii. Spottiswood, lib. iii. Keith, &c. 


At this critical moment John Knox appeared. In the 
November of the preceding year he had received letters 
earnestly urging him to return, and taking a second leave of 
his friends at Geneva he began his journey homewards. He 
begged permission to pass through England, but he had 
recently published his " First Blast of the Trumpet against 
the monstrous Regiment of Women ; " and though all the 
world knew it was Mary he attacked, Elizabeth felt that the 
argument applied to herself, and she could never forgive the 
writer of that tract. She refused him a passport. 1 Forced to 
proceed by sea, he landed at Leith, and after spending two 
days in Edinburgh, he hurried first to Dundee and then to 
Perth, where the Protestantism of the country was concen- 
tred, and arrived just when men's minds were in the greatest 
ferment, on account of their preachers being put to the horn. 
Proceeding to the church, he thundered against idolatry. 
The excitement of the period gave additional vehemence to 
his oratory, and he seemed like another Demosthenes, " wield- 
ing at will the mighty multitude who had assembled to hear 
him. The sermon being done, the crowd dispersed, and only 
a few loiterers remained in the church, when a priest with 
inconceivable imprudence uncovered a rich altar-piece, de- 
corated with images, and proceeded to celebrate mass. A lad 
standing by told him this was not to be borne, and the priest in 
anger struck him. The lad seized a stone, and threw it, but it 
missed the priest and smashed to pieces one of the images. 
It was the signal for the demolition of many a gorgeous altar 
and stately monastery. The on-lookers took part with the 
boy, a religious fury took hold of the people who came flock- 
ing back to the building, and in a few minutes every chapel 
was ransacked, every virgin, apostle, and saint broken to 
pieces, and the whole costly furniture of the church scattered 
in fragments on the floor. In a twinkling the whole city 
heard of what had been done ; and a mob, still under the 
excitement of the sermon, began to assemble. The cry was 
given — " To the monasteries ! n and in a short time the 
monasteries of the Black and Grey Friars were in ruins. The 
cry was next raised — " To the Charter House ! " and soon 
of that magnificent structure there were left only the bare 
walls." 2 

When the regent heard of these outrages she was violently 

1 Knox's Letter to Cecil, Dieppe, loth April 1559. 

2 Lesley, lib. x. Knox, book ii. 

a.d. 1559.] TREATY OF PERTH. 257 

incensed, and is said to have vowed that she would raze the 
sacrilegious city to the ground, and sow its foundations with 
salt in sign of perpetual desolation. 1 In a few days she was in 
its neighbourhood with a considerable military following. The 
citizens shut the gates, and directed letters to the queen- 
regent, the nobility, and " to the generation of Antichrist, the 
pestilent prelates, and their shavelings within Scotland." 2 
These letters proved that they were perfectly ripe for rebel- 
lion. The regent at first was unwilling to treat ; but Glen- 
cairn, with upwards of two thousand followers, had made his 
way by forced marches and mountain roads to Perth, and 
threw a preponderating weight into the Protestant scale. It 
was finally agreed that both armies should be disbanded, and 
the town left open to the queen ; that none of the inhabitants 
should be molested on account of their religion ; that no 
French soldiers should enter the town ; and that all other con- 
troversies should be referred to the next parliament. 3 In con- 
sequence of this treaty, the Congregation left Perth the day 
after it was concluded, but not till they had entered into a 
second bond or " Covenant " for mutual support and defence, 
which was subscribed by the Earls of Argyll and Glencairn, 
Lords Boyd and Ochiltree, the Prior of St Andrews, generally 
called the Lord James, and Campbell of Taringhame. 4 

The queen had no sooner got possession of Perth than she 
violated the treaty she had subscribed. She removed the Pro- 
testant magistrates from their offices, and substituted Papists 
in their room : she took steps toward the restoration of the 
Roman worship, and introduced a garrison, not indeed of 
French soldiers, but of Scotchmen in the pay of France, and 
who were therefore quite as odious to the citizens. The Earl 
of Argyll and the Lord James, anxious to suppress rebellion, 
had hitherto remained with the regent, but now they were so 
shocked at her want of faith that they withdrew, and repaired 
to St Andrews, where a great muster of the Congregation was 
about to be held. Other influential nobles followed their 

Meanwhile Knox was not idle. Passing into Fife, he 
preached first at Crail and afterwards at Anstruther, and in 
both places his preaching was followed by the overturning of 

1 Knox's History, book ii. 

2 These letters are given at length in Knox's History. 

3 Knox's History, book ii. Keith, book i. chap, viii, 

4 Both Knox and Keith give this document in full. 



altars and the breaking of images. Cupar had already fol- 
lowed the example set by Perth ; and the poor priest was so 
distressed that he committed suicide. It was on Friday and 
Saturday that Knox preached in Crail and Anstruther, and he 
had arranged to preach at St Andrews on the Sunday. The 
archbishop, hearing this, got alarmed for his noble cathedral 
church, and came to St Andrews on Saturday night, accom- 
panied with a hundred spears. A message was sent to Knox, 
that if he should attempt preaching on the morrow a dozen 
hackbuts would be levelled at his head, or, as it was phrased, 
"would light upon his nose." In these circumstances, he was 
strongly advised to abandon his design. But the fearless 
Reformer had long looked forward to preaching once more in 
the place where he had first been called to the ministry of the 
Word ; the hope of it had solaced him while toiling in the 
galleys ; he had foretold it when the tower of St Regulus had 
gleamed on his view far over the wave ; and now, when his 
fondest wishes were about to be realised, he would not draw 
back for fear of man. The archbishop finding that Knox was 
determined, and that the inhabitants of the town were friendly 
to him, left on the Sunday morning, and repaired to Falkland, 
where the queen was. Knox preached in the cathedral church, 
and ancient memories gave an impassioned tone to his elo- 
quence. Christ driving out the traffickers from the temple was 
the subject of his discourse, and the magistrates as well as the 
mob, understanding his arguments and heated by his fire, 
proceeded immediately after sermon to destroy the Dominican 
and Franciscan monasteries, and to rifle and deface all the 
churches in the town. 1 

The queen, full of grief and indignation, determined to 
march at once against the rioters. The armed members of 
the Congregation were not numerous, and they might have 
been taken by surprise ; but the moment danger was antici- 
pated, partizans flocked in from every quarter; "men," 
according to Knox, " seemed to rain from the clouds ; " and 
encamping on Cupar Moor, midway between Falkland and 
St Andrews, they bid defiance to the queen's army. As both 
parties were unwilling to come to blows, a truce was agreed 
upon, and the queen promised in the course of a few days to 
send commissioners to St Andrews to arrange an armistice. 
But day after day passed ; no commissioners came ; and it 
began to be suspected, as indeed it was manifest, that the 

1 Knox, book ii. 

a.d. 1559.] ABBEY OF SCONE. 259 

queen only wished to gain time. The Congregation could not 
afford to be idle, as their array was liable to melt away, and 
therefore, facing northwards, they marched upon Perth, the 
garrison of which they compelled to surrender. 1 

About three miles west from Perth, upon ground gently 
sloping down to the Tay, stood the Abbey of Scone. It was 
venerable in the eyes of every Scotchman, as the place where 
the kings of Scotland had from time immemorial been crowned; 
and though robbed by Edward of its famous black stone, 
fabled to be the one upon which Jacob had pillowed his head 
at Bethel, enough remained to throw a peculiar interest around 
it. The Bishop of Moray was at this time Commendator of 
Scone, and resided there. He was a man of licentious manners, 
and had rendered himself obnoxious to the men of Perth and 
Dundee ; but now, when his abbey was threatened, he became 
obsequious even to meanness, promised to send his followers 
to join those of the Congregation, and to vote on their side in 
the approaching parliament. All would not do: the " rascal 
multitude " poured from the city toward the abbey ; and 
though Knox and other leading men of the Congregation 
hurried after them, and attempted to stay their fury, they suc- 
ceeded only for a day. On the second day the torch was 
applied, and soon the beautiful house in which our fathers had 
worshipped and our monarchs had been crowned was burned 
up with fire. 2 

Only a day after this, the mob at Stirling, incited by the 
presence of the Earl of Argyll and Lord James Stewart, 
attacked and destroyed the monasteries in the town ; and 
then proceeding to the Abbey of Cambuskenneth, which 
lifted up its lofty walls amid the windings of the Forth, and 
was everywhere visible from the rich corn-fields of the carse, 
they left it nearly as we now find it — an utter desolation. 
Flushed with these victories over the monuments of idolatry 
and architecture, the Congregation resolved to march upon 
Edinburgh. On their way they purged Linlithgow of its idols ; 
and reaching the capital, from which the regent retreated on 
their approach, they finished what the mob had left undone 
in plundering Holyrood, destroying the convents, and clearing 
the churches of their altars and images." 3 The example was 
infectious, and spread fast and far. The Abbeys of Paisley, 

1 Knox, book ii. Lesley. Keith. - Knox's History, book ii. 

3 Keith, book i. chap. viii. Knox, book ii. Lesley, lib. x. 


Kilwinning, and Dunfermline were attacked, and all their 
"popish stuff" burned. 1 

Tradition has ascribed to Knox the party-cry, " Down with 
the crows' nests, or the crows will build in them again." 2 
Whether true or not, it is like the man, and like his manner 
of going to work. Indicating great insensibility to the 
sesthetical, it shows a far-reaching policy. The wise captain, 
when he ferretted out the robber, destroyed his fortalice, that 
he might never harbour in it again. On the same principle, 
the Reformer, when he had ousted the monks, destroyed their 
monasteries. We would we had restored some of our ruined 
castles, to crown our crags, if we could have them without 
bandits \ and we would we had still every one of our abbeys, 
if we had them without Benedictines or Augustinians, Fran- 
ciscans, Carmelites, or Dominicans. But if the refuge and 
the rogue must go together, we would rather want robbers and 
picturesque castles, monks, and Gothic monasteries. Was it 
possible to destroy the one and preserve the other? Perhaps 
it was ) but the usual tactics of war is to destroy everything 
which shelters the enemy ; and the Reformation was a death- 
war against monachism. Who would put possibilities against 
the maxims of a universal policy ? But might not every monu- 
ment of superstition have been destroyed, and the bare build- 
ings themselves been preserved to lodge a purer religion? 
Perhaps they might ; but could the rabble which followed 
in the trail of the Congregation be expected to do just what 
was needful, and nothing more ? As well try to keep a fierce 
soldiery in check when sacking a city. Every revolution must 
have its excesses. It is, indeed, impossible to read without a 
pang of the demolition of the Charter-House at Perth, and the 
burning of the Abbey at Scone ; but our grief will subside 
when we reflect that a more glorious temple, built of living 
stones, has risen upon their ruins. But withal let no man 
indulge in imaginary sorrows, or dream that every ruined 
cathedral, abbey, and church which he sees, was reduced 

1 Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. p. 468. See also Letters of Bishop Jewel 
to Peter Martyr — " All the monasteries are everywhere levelled with the 
ground, the theatrical dresses, the sacrilegious chalices, the idols and 
the altars are consigned to the flames, not a vestige of the ancient 
superstition and idolatry left." London, August 1st, 1559. Zurich 
Letters. Parker Society. 

- Row's History of the Kirk of Scotland, p. 12. Spottiswood's History, 
lib. ii. 


to its present desolation by the Reformers. War, time, 
neglect, and the barbarity of making grand old buildings 
quarries out of which to erect mean modern ones, have done 
far more than John Knox toward reducing our religious houses 
to the state of ruin in which we now find too many of them. 
And England must bear more than half the shame, for the 
border abbeys, the noblest of all, were destroyed by the Eng- 
glish army under Hertford. 

After the retreat of the queen-regent, and the occupation 
of the capital by the Congregation, both parties gave vent to 
mutual recriminations and reproaches. The regent issued 
proclamations, and the Congregation answered them. The 
regent accused the Congregation of rebellion and treason ; the 
Congregation declared they wished nothing more than the 
reformation of religion and the expulsion of the French. 1 On 
the one side, it was industriously whispered that the Prior of 
St Andrews, notwithstanding his bastard blood, aspired to the 
throne ; on the other, it was rumoured that the French had 
already parcelled out the country amongst them, and that one 
already rejoiced in the title of Monsieur d J Argyll, another of 
Monsieur de Prior, a third of Monsieur de Ruthven. 2 The 
known ambition and abilities of the young Lord James gave 
a colour of probability to what was said of him, and some 
even of the Congregation believed it. Jealousies arose ; un- 
comfortable feelings about the end of traitors were experi- 
enced, though not confessed ; barons began to slip away 
home ; and the military muster to dissolve like frost-work in 
the sun. The regent, knowing this state of matters, marched 
upon Edinburgh, and the Congregation were glad to accept of 
the following terms of accommodation : " That, on the one 
side, the Congregation evacuate the capital, deliver up the dies 
of the mint, which they had seized, submit themselves to the 
authority of the king, queen, and regent, refrain from molest- 
ing ecclesiastics or hindering them in the lifting of their rents, 
and finally, cease from casting down religious houses, or strip- 
ping them of their furniture ; and on the other side, that the 
citizens of Edinburgh should be allowed to choose their own 
religion, without being overawed by a garrison, and that the 
Protestant preachers should everywhere have full liberty of 

1 Proclamation by Regent, and Answer by the Congregation, July 1559, 
published at length by Keith, book i. chap. ix. 

2 Knox's History, book ii. 


speech." These terms were subscribed on the 24th of July, 
and were to hold good till the 10th of January following. 1 

Driven from Edinburgh, the Protestants sought refuge in 
Stirling, where a third bond or " Covenant' 7 was subscribed, in 
which the barons pledged themselves not to treat separately 
with the regent. 2 It was meant as a counter-check to the 
queen, who had been tampering with individuals, and attempt- 
ing to detach them from the cause. 

In the meantime, Henry II. died, slain in joisting with 
Count Montgomery, and Francis and Mary were now King 
and Queen of France. They were scarcely seated on the 
throne when they each wrote to the Prior of St Andrews, re- 
minding him of the favours he had received at their hands, 
upbraiding him with ingratitude, want of natural affection, and 
treason, but leaving him place for repentance. The prior 
replied that he had done nothing against God or their 
Majesties, and that all he desired was a reformation of the 
Church. 3 But it could scarcely be hoped that threaten- 
ing epistles could turn the tide of revolution. A large 
detachment of French auxiliaries arrived at Leith. Following 
in their train came a more peaceful band — the Bishop of 
Amiens as legate from the Pope, and three doctors of the Sor- 
bonne. The soldiers began to fortify Leith, the bishop to 
purify the Church of St Giles from heretical pollutions, and 
the doctors to confute the heretics. 4 But notwithstanding the 
lustrations of the legate, and the reasonings of the Sorbonnists, 
the citizens refused to give up their High Church ; and John 
Willock stoutly preached there. 

Meanwhile the country was traversed by preachers, uttering 
fierce invectives against the regent and the Pope. 5 The regent 
complained of the language they used. " They merely pro- 
claim and cry," said Knox, " that the same God who plagued 
Pharaoh, repulsed Sennacherib, struck Herod with worms, and 
made the bellies of dogs the grave and sepulchre of the spite- 
ful Jezebel, will not spare misled princes, who authorise the 
murderers of Christ's members in this our time." " On this 
manner," said he, " they speak of princes in general, and of 

1 Keith, book i. chap. ix. Lesley, lib. x. 

2 It will be found at length in both Keith and Knox. 

3 Lesley, De Rebus, &c. , lib. x. , where a copy of the letters of Francis 
and Mary is given, and an outline of the prior's reply. Keith's History, 
book i. chap. ix. 

4 Lesley, De Rebus, Sec. 

5 Sadler's State Tapers, vol. i. p. 433. 


your Majesty in particular." But why should preachers 
meddle with State policy at all? said the regent. Again 
Knox had his answer : " Elias did personally reprove Ahab 
and Jezebel of idolatry, of avarice, of murder : Esaias the 
prophet called the magistrates of Jerusalem, in his time, com- 
panions to thieves, princes of Sodom, bribe-takers, and mur- 
derers ; he complained that their silver was turned into dross, 
that their wine was mingled with water, and that justice was 
bought and sold : Jeremiah said that the bones of King 
Jehoiakim should wither with the sun : Christ Jesus called 
Herod a fox : and Paul calleth a high-priest a painted wall, 
and prayeth unto God that he should smite him, because that 
against justice he had commanded him to be smitten." 1 This 
was plain and not very pleasant language to be used by a 
preacher to a lady and a queen. 

But the Lords of the Congregation now began to feel the 
need of exterior aid, and that, if England did not help them, 
their enterprise must fail. At the same time Elizabeth began 
to see that if she did not act energetically, Scotland might be 
filled with Frenchmen, who would march into England and 
topple her from her throne. 

Towards the end of June and beginning of July, communi- 
cations affecting matters in Scotland had passed between 
Kirkaldy of Grange, Sir Henry Percy, and Sir William Cecil, 
Queen Elizabeth's clear-seeing secretary. On the 19th of 
July, the Lords of the Congregation wrote to Cecil, referring 
to these, explaining their views, and soliciting his assistance. 2 
As Knox was indispensable to the negotiations with the 
English government, he thought it right to make an effort to 
propitiate Elizabeth, whom he had grievously offended by his 
" Blast against the Monstrous Regiment of Women." On the 
20th of July, he wrote Secretary Cecil, enclosing a letter for 
the queen, in which he deprecated her resentment, expressed 
his attachment to her person and government, but still honestly 
confessed his adherence to the general principles contained in 
his book, and warned her not to brag of her birth, or build 
her authority on changing laws, but on the eternal providence 
of Him who, contrary to nature and above her desserts, had 
exalted her head. Cecil answered his letters on the 28th, 
oddly beginning his note with the text, " There is neither 
male nor female, but we are all one in Christ," and then 

1 Knox's History, book ii. 

2 This letter will be found in Knox's History, book iii. 


passing on to other matters. 1 The truth is, Knox had com- 
mitted an unpardonable sin, and Elizabeth could never bear 
him. Cecil, in one of his letters to Sadler and Crofts, some 
months afterwards, declares, " of all others, Knox's name, if 
it be not Goodman's, is most odious here; and therefore I 
wish no mention of him hither." 2 On the same day on which 
Cecil wrote to Knox, he wrote to the Lords of the Congrega- 
tion, hinting that, as they must be in want of money, they 
should appropriate the revenues of the Church, "putting 
good things to good uses." 3 

Though Knox was no favourite at the English court, he 
could not well be wanted as a negotiator ; and on the 3d of 
August we find him at Berwick, closeted with Sir James 
Crofts, the governor, suggesting that Stirling Castle should be 
seized and strongly garrisoned ; that Broughty Castle should, 
in like manner, be occupied \ that, in order to] do this, money 
to pay the troops must be furnished by England, ships of war 
must be ready to give assistance in case of need, and pensions 
allowed to some of the reforming barons who were hard up 
for cash. 4 About the middle of August Sir Ralph Sadler, 
than whom there was no one more intimately acquainted with 
Scotch affairs, arrived at Berwick to watch the movements of 
the Congregation, and treat with their emissaries. From this 
time, everything that happened in Scotland was made known 
to Sadler, and by Sadler communicated to Cecil. Randolph 
had come into Scotland to spy the land, and he writes ; Bal- 
naves writes ; and Knox writes. Knox assumed the name of 
Sinclair — his mother's name — in his correspondence ; and in 
a letter of date the 21st of September, he again tells Sadler 
that, unless some support were given to certain of the lords, 
they must, through extreme poverty, remain at home, and take 

1 Copies of these three letters are given in Knox's History, book iii. 
Tytler, however, has shown that the dates there given are wrong, and 
that those here given are the correct ones. 

2 Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. p. 532. Goodman was an Englishman, 
who fled the country during the reign of Queen Mary, and, when at 
Geneva, published a book entitled, "How Superior Powers ought to be 
obeyed of their Subjects, and wherein they may lawfully be disobeyed 
and rejected," &c. In this book he rails, like Knox, against the govern- 
ment of women ; therefore Elizabeth's hate. 

3 MS. in State-Paper Office. 

4 MS. in State-Paper Office. In the Calendars of State Papers there 
is a summary of many documents throwing interesting light upon these 

A.D. 1559.] PLANS AND PROJECTS. 265 

no part in the warlike movements that were contemplated." 1 
The individuals referred to, as Sadler informs Cecil, were 
Glencairn, Dun, Grange, and Ormiston. 2 It was money, in 
fact, that the Lords of the Congregation chiefly wanted — 
money to pay their mercenaries, and money to support their 
own state as feudal barons with a feudal following. Elizabeth 
was parsimonious, and did not like to part with her money ; 
but, overcome by the urgency of the case, she repeatedly sent 
considerable sums to the Reformers, under the pledge that the 
strictest secrecy would be observed as to the source from which 
they had come. 3 

But the most interesting inquiry remains— What were the 
objects which the Congregation had in view, and what was the 
policy of the English government in assisting them ? These 
we are able minutely to trace. On the very day after the 
Congregation entered Edinburgh, Sir William 
J u y !> 1 SS9- Kirkaldy of Grange wrote to Sir Henry Percy — 
" I received your letter this last of June, perceiving thereby 
the doubt and suspicion you stand in for the coming forward 
of the Congregation, whom, I assure you, you need not have 
in suspicion, for they mean nothing but reformation of religion, 
which shortly, throughout the realm, they will bring to pass ; 
for the Queen and Monsieur D'Osell, with all the Frenchmen, 
for refuge, are retired to Dunbar. The foresaid Congregation 
came this last of June, by three of the clock, to Edinburgh, 
where they will take order for the maintenance of the true 
religion, and resisting of the King of France if he sends any 

force against them The manner of their proceeding in 

reformation is this, — they pull down all manner of friaries and 
some abbeys, which willingly receive not the Reformation. 
As to parish churches, they cleanse them of images and all 
other monuments of idolatry, and command that no masses be 
said in them ; in place thereof the book set forth by godly 
King Edward is read in the same churches. They have never 
as yet meddled with a pennyworth of that which pertains to 
the Church, but presently they will take order throughout all 
the parts where they dwell, that all the fruits of the abbeys 
and other churches shall be kept and bestowed upon the 
faithful ministers, until such time as a farther order be taken. 

1 Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. p. 455. 

2 Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. p. 469. Sadler, in mentioning Glencairn, 
somewhat piteously says, "he is indeed a puir man." 

3 Sadler's State Papers, vol. i., passim. 


Some suppose the queen, seeing no other remedy, will follow 
their desires, which is a general reformation throughout the 
whole realm, conform to the pure AVord of God, and the 
Frenchmen to be sent away. If her Grace will do so, they 
will obey her and serve her, and annex the whole revenues of 
the abbeys to the crown ; if her Grace will not be content 
with this, they are determined to hear of no argument." 1 

Such were the views of the leaders of the Congregation on 
the i st of July. By the 19th of the same month they have 
advanced a step farther. In a letter to Cecil, and in answer 
to the question, " What the Protestants within this realm do 
mean ? " They say, " True it is, that as yet we have made no 
mention of any change in authority, neither yet were we 
minded to do any such thing, till extreme necessity compelleth 
us thereto ; but seeing it is now more than evident that France, 
and the queen-regent here, with her priests, pretend nothing 
but the suppressing of Christ's gospel, the ruin of us, and the 
subversion of this poor realm, committing our innocency to 
God, and unto the judgment of all godly and wise men, we 
are determined to seek the remedy, in which we heartily re- 
quire your counsel and assistance.' J2 By the 19th of August 
this plan is assuming a definite shape, for on that day Argyll 
and the Lord James, in name of their brethren, write to the 
English secretary — ".We cease not to provoke all men to 
favour our cause, and of our nobility we have established a 
council ; but suddenly to discharge this authority [evidently 
the regent's], till that ye and we be fully accorded, it is not 
thought expedient." 3 By the 8th of September the scheme 
was ripe. " Whatever pretence they make/' writes Sadler to 
Cecil, " the principal mark they shoot at is, as Balnaves saith, 
to make an alteration of the state and authority, to the extent 
that the same being established as they desire, they may then 
enter into open treaty with her Majesty, as the case may re- 
quire. This, he saith, is very secret ; and if the Duke will 
take it upon him, they mean to bestow it there ; or, if he 
refuse, his son is as meet, or more meet for the purpose." 4 

The Lords of the Congregation had now hit upon the plan 
of all most agreeable to Elizabeth, Her policy was not to 

1 MS. Letter, State-Paper Office. 

2 Knox's History, book iii. Knox dates the letter on the 27th ; we 
have already referred to this as a mistake. 

3 MS., State-Paper Office. 

4 Sadler's State Papers, &c, vol. i. p. 433. 

A.D. 1559.] THE COMING MAX. 267 

reform religion, especially according to Knox's views, but to 
lessen French influence in Scotland ; and there was no more 
effectual way of doing this than by depriving Mary of Guise 
of her regency. During the month of August, Cecil's and 
Sadler's letters are full of mysterious references to the arrival 
of the Earl of Arran. This young nobleman had held the com- 
mand of the Scots Guard at Paris, but becoming suspected of 
heresy, he had fled to Geneva, and now he was passing through 
England on his way home. He entered Scotland in disguise 
under the name of Beaufort, accompanied by Randolph, who 
rejoiced in the name of Barnabie. This M. de Beaufort was 
the regent to be. It was even hoped he would soon be the 
husband of Elizabeth, and that thus the kingdoms would be 
united under a Protestant house, and the Catholic Mary cast 
overboard. His presence at Hamilton was soon seen in his 
influence over his vacillating father, whose conduct for some 
time had been dubious, though he was generally understood to 
lean to the regent ; but now, turning Protestant once more, he 
threw in his lot with the Congregation. The plans thus secretly 
formed soon began to develop themselves. 

In 1559 the harvest in Scotland was unusually late, and 
before it was well gathered in the Congregation was in 
motion. 1 On the 18th of October they entered Edinburgh, 
and the regent, upon their approach, left Holyrood, and 
retired within the fortifications at Leith. Rumours had got 
afloat that Chastelherault had joined the Protestants to cheat 
Lord James of the crown, and take it to himself. He purged 
himself with sound of trumpet at the market-cross. 2 On the 
19th a message was sent to the regent, requiring her to send 
all Frenchmen furth the realm. The regent refused to accede 
to a demand, which, she said, was more like that of a prince 
to his subjects, than of subjects to a prince. 3 On the 21st 
the barons and their preachers assembled in the Tolbooth. 
No less weighty a matter than the deposition of the regent 
was debated. The preachers were required to give their 
opinion, and John Willock stood up. He argued that, albeit 
magistrates were the ordinance of God, they might upon good 
cause be removed, and that God had frequently raised up 
men to cut off wicked monarchs, " as by Asa he removed 

1 When urged to activity, they pleaded harvest operations as the cause 
of delay. (Sadler's State Papers, vol. i.) 

2 Keith's Hist., book i. chap. ix. Knox's Hist., book ii. 

3 Keith's Hist., book i. chap. ix. 


Maacha, his own mother, from honour and authority ; by 
Jehu he destroyed Joram, and the whole posterity of Ahab." 
Knox followed and concurred. 1 The plan had been deter- 
mined upon a month ago ; the preachers had been required 
to speak only that they might give to it the sanction of reli- 
gion, and a deed was drawn depriving the regent of her 
office. The barons alleged that they took this decisive step 
in virtue of their being born-counsellors of the realm, but how 
many of the oligarchy had part in it we cannot discover, as, 
instead of appending their names individually to the deed of 
deprivation, they, strangely enough, made it to run in the 
name of — " Us, the nobility and commons of the Protestants 
of the Church of Scotland." 2 

The siege of Leith was now begun. An attempt was made 
to scale its walls and take it by storm, but utterly failed. On 
the 6th of November a convoy with provisions was seen 
approaching the city, and the garrison sallied out to cut it off. 
The Earl of Arran and the Lord James, with a band of fol- 
lowers, made for the rescue, and charged the French with 
such impetuosity that they got entangled in the marshy 
ground between Holyrood and Restalrig, and made a narrow 
escape of being surrounded and cut to pieces. A panic 
seized upon the city. Lord Erskine held the castle ; his 
policy was doubtful, and men with pale faces whispered 
that he might bring the guns of the fortress to bear upon 
them. A flight was determined upon, and at midnight the 
members of the Congregation were crowding out of the city- 
gates and taking the road to Stirling. Then it was seen how 
many there are ready to change with the change of circum- 
stances, and ever to keep on the winning side. Two days ago 
all Edinburgh seemed Protestant ; " but now," says Knox, in 
dolour of heart, " the despiteful tongues of the wicked railed 
upon us, calling us traitors and heretics ; every one provoked 
the other to cast stones at us." 3 The Congregation were hooted 
and pelted as they left the city. 

Arrived at Stirling, the lords took counsel together as to 
what was to be done. It was plain that their raw musters 
could not cope with the disciplined soldiery of France, and 
that unless Elizabeth sent men and munitions of war, as well 
as money, to their aid, they must be crushed. Young Mait- 

1 Knox's Hist., book ii. 

2 The deed of deprivation is given by Knox at length. Hist., book ii. 
:i Knox's History, book ii. 

A.D. 1559.] DIPLOMACY. 269 

land of Lethington had recently deserted the regent, and 
joined their cause. He was despatched to the English court. 
In the meantime, as the Reforming barons could easiest main- 
tain themselves each in his own country, they resolved to 
divide — Chastelherault, Glencairn, Boyd, and Ochiltree, 
marched upon Glasgow ; Arran, Rothes, the Lord James, 
and the Master of Lindsay, retired into Fife. Henry Balnaves 
was attached as secretary to the western division ; John Knox 
to the eastern. At Glasgow, Chastelherault was not idle. He 
purged the churches of their idols, seized upon the archiepis- 
copal palace, and published proclamations in the name of the 
king and the queen \ but a detachment of French from Edin- 
burgh brought his procedure to an abrupt conclusion. 

Elizabeth was most anxious to assist the insurgents, but was 
at a loss how to do it, as the kingdoms were at peace. In the 
month of October, Knox had proposed to Sir James Crofts 
that a thousand men or more should be sent into Scotland, 
and that so soon as they joined the Congregation they should 
be declared rebels, as if they had left England without the 
consent of the government. Crofts declared that such a pro- 
ceeding would not blind the world, and would touch the hon- 
our of his prince. 1 Cecil was delighted with the rebuke which 
the diplomatist had administered to the preacher. 2 But as 
the emergency became greater, it was felt that something must 
be done, under whatever pretence. Cecil had already sent 
down to Scotland minute instructions as to the precise way in 
which all applications for assistance should be made. The 
only subject to be insisted upon was that the French, by con- 
quering Scotland, would endanger England and Ireland. In 
the instructions given to Lethington for his conduct at the 
English court, this programme of procedure was faithfullv 
observed, so that when Maitland spoke, Elizabeth could only 
hear the echo of her own voice. 3 The result of all this 
crooked diplomacy was, that a secret treaty was concluded at 

1 Keith gives both these letters in his Appendix. Knox signs himself 
John Sinclair. 

2 "Surely I like not Knox's audacity, which was well tamed in your 
answer. His writings do no good here, and therefore I do rather sup- 
press them, and yet I mean not but that he should continue in sending 
them." (Cecil to Sadler and Crofts. Sadler's State Papers, &c, vol. i. 


3 Compare letter of Cecil to Sadler and Crofts of 12th November, with 

instructions given to Lethington, 25th November 1559. (Sadler's State 
Papers, &c, vol. i. ) 


Berwick between Elizabeth and the Lords of the Congrega- 
tion, in which she undertook to assist them in expelling the 

After the retreat of the Protestants from the capital, the 
French marched into Fife. Proceeding along the coast, they 
observed some large ships of war bearing up the Frith. At 
first they imagined them to be from France with auxiliary 
troops, and gave them a salute, but it soon became plain that 
they were English vessels, whatever might be the design of 
their coming. The admiral said he had been sent in quest of 
some pirates, and wished to skulk for a time in the Frith that 
he might unexpectedly pounce upon them ; but nobody 
believed him, and the French instantly began their retreat. 
The English fleet was soon followed by an English army, and 
in the month of April 1560, Leith found itself besieged for the 
second time. Elizabeth and Cecil had frequently upbraided 
the Scots for their dilatoriness and want of success during the 
previous siege. They now found it was not so easy as they 
had supposed to enter a town lying to the sea, strongly fortified, 
and defended by veteran troops. Batteries were opened, 
skirmishes fought, an escalade attempted, but still Leith was 
not taken. But hope did not fail ; the treaty of Berwick was 
renewed and confirmed ; and the Lords of the Congregation 
put their names to a fourth Covenant, in which they pledged 
themselves to pursue their object to the last extremity, to be 
enemies to enemies, and friends to friends. 1 

Upon the approach of the English army the queen-regent 
retired within the Castle of Edinburgh, into which Lord 
Erskine willingly received her. Worn out with grief, swollen 
and breathless from dropsy, she knew she was dying. Feeling 
her end to be near, she expressed a wish to have an interview 
with some of the confederate lords, and accordingly the Duke 
of Chastelherault, the Earls of Argyll, Marischal, and Glen- 
cairn, and the Lord James Stuart, waited upon her in her sick 
room. She declared to them how she had loved Scotland — 
how she had lamented the troubles that had arisen — how 
earnestly she desired peace. She recommended them to send 
both the French and the English troops out of the country, 
but at the same time to preserve inviolate their ancient alliance 
with France, as her daughter, their queen, was now united in 
marriage with its monarch. She at last burst into tears, asked 
pardon of all whom she had in any way offended, and declared 
1 Knox's Hist., book iii. Keith, book i. chap. xi. 


that from her heart she forgave those who had offended her. 
Composing herself a little, she kissed the nobles one by one, 
and held out her hand to be kissed by the attendants who 
happened to be in the room. The rough barons were deeply 
moved, and, sincere in their religious convictions, they pro- 
posed that John Willock should be sent for to prepare her for 
death. The Catholic queen agreed to receive the Protestant 
preacher, and Willock came. He spoke to her of the merits 
of Christ, and the abominations of the mass. She declared 
that her only hope was in Christ, but regarding the mass she 
was silent. The next day she died. 1 

We cannot help loving Mary of Lorraine, albeit she was a 
Papist and a Guise. No Frenchwoman, before or since, ever 
became so naturalised to Scotland as she, though she never 
understood the rough temper of its people. Brought from the 
most dissolute court in Europe, her court was an example to 
every household in the kingdom. Admired for her beauty and 
wit in the brilliant circle of Francis I., she had adapted herself 
to her altered circumstances, both as wife and widow, and 
made her husband's country her own. She herself was accus- 
tomed to visit the sick and the poor, and with womanly 
kindness relieve them. Justice was never more strictly ad- 
ministered than during her government. But she was fated 
to live in troublous times, and when her subjects changed 
their religion she could not change hers. A collision became 
inevitable between a government still Catholic, a church still 
Catholic, and a nobility turned Protestant. Instead of marvel- 
ling at this, it were wiser to marvel that the collision was not 
more violent than it was, and that so great a revolution was 
effected with so little loss of blood. It was not to be expected 
that she should be able to free herself of French influences, 
more especially considering that her daughter the Queen of 
Scotland was Dauphiness of France. The only thing for 
which we find it hard to forgive her was her frequent viola- 
tions of solemn promises. The truth is, that when affairs were 
threatening the woman got alarmed, and made promises which 
she broke when the danger was past. A resolute man would 
not have made the promises, and would not have been taunted 
for breaking them. But her death- scene covers all. She 
begged our forgiveness — shall we refuse to give it ? Knox did 
not forgive her ; and we are ashamed to write that a vindictive 
intolerance followed her to the grave. " Question being 

1 Lesley. Knox. Spottiswood. Keith, &c, &c. 


moved about her burial," says he, 1 "the preachers boldly 
gainstood that any superstitious rites should be used in that 
realm, which God of His mercy had begun to purge. Her 
burial was deferred till further advisement; and so she was 
laid in a coffin of lead, and kept in the castle from the 10th of 
June till the 19th of October, when she was carried by some 
pioneers to a ship." In this vessel she was carried over the 
troubled, restless sea to France, and buried in the Benedictine 
Monastery of St Peter's, at Rheims, of which her sister Renee 
was the abbess ; and where she herself had desired that her 
ashes might repose. 

Thus lived, died, and was buried, Mary of Lorraine, Dowa- 
ger Duchess of Longueville, and Queen Regent of Scotland. 
It is known that Henry of England wanted her to wife, as he 
had heard much of her large and comely person ; and refused 
to be satisfied even when he heard of her betrothal to his 
nephew in Scotland. 2 How would it have fared with her had 
she gone to England ? Would she have shared the fate of the 
other wives, or would her personal charms and Guisean ways 
have turned the heart of the king and stayed the Refor- 
mation ? 

Before the death of the regent both France and England 
had become earnestly desirous of peace ; and in the month of 
May commissioners had been appointed to adjust its terms. 
But there were grave difficulties in the way, as the negotia- 
tions must include, in some way or other, not only England 
and France, but the Lords of the Congregation, who had been 
in open rebellion against their natural sovereign. The firm- 
ness of Cecil got rid of the difficulty, and a treaty was agreed 
upon, in which was embraced all that France and England 
desired ; while at the same time the safety of the Lords of the 
Congregation was guaranteed, and the Reformation of re- 
ligion in Scotland, though not mentioned, virtually secured. 3 
The chief articles of this important treaty, so far as it referred 
to Scotland, were : — That both the French and the English 

1 Knox's History, book iii. Randolph wrote to Killigrew that the corpse 
was treated with the greatest respect, and that it should receive all sol- 
emnities excepting such as savoured of superstition. June 20th, 1560. 
State Papers. 

- Carte's Hist., vol. iii. p. 152. Tytler's Hist., chap. ix. 

:; As the queen had not given her commissioners any instructions to 
treat upon these two last points, she refused to ratify the treaty so far 
as it had reference to them. Nevertheless the treaty was acted upon, 
as if it were good in every respect. 

A. D. 1560.] TREATY OF LEITH. 273 

troops should be withdrawn ; that an act of oblivion should be 
passed for all offences committed between the 6th of March 
1558 and the ist of August 1560 ; that the barons and com- 
monality of the realm should bear no quarrels against each 
other for anything done during that period ; that those who 
had possessions or benefices in France should have them 
restored ; that all ecclesiastics who had received injuries 
during the commotions should receive redress, and that they 
should not now be hindered in lifting their rents ; that the 
government should, in the meantime, be conducted by a 
council of twelve, seven of whom should be chosen by the 
queen, and live by the Estates ; and that in the month of 
August next a parliament should be held, lor which a commis- 
sion should be sent by the king and queen, and that this con- 
vention should be as lawful in all respects as if it had been 
ordained by the express command of their Majesties. 

In this document the Reformation appears to be ignored, 
and the Papacy protected. This arose from the desire of 
Elizabeth to have it understood that she began the war, not 
from religious considerations, but simply from a determination 
to prevent the ascendancy of France in the island. The treaty 
of Leith must be read by the light of the treaty of Ber- 
wick. But the article which permitted the Scotch to hold a 
parliament, put it in their power to effect a reformation in the 
Church, if it were found that a majority of the representatives 
of the nation desired it. The change from Prelacy to Presby- 
terianism was afterwards effected in the same way, not by the 
mandate of a monarch, not by an article in a treaty, but by a 
vote in parliament ; and of all possible modes it was the most 
legitimate. On the 8th of July the peace was proclaimed at 
the Market Cross of Edinburgh, and public thanks were given 
to God in the church of St Giles. 

The thoughts and desires of the nation were now concen- 
trated upon the approaching parliament. According to the 
specific terms of the treaty, it met on the 10th of July, and 
then adjourned to the ist of August, to afford time for receiv- 
ing a commission from the sovereigns. On the ist of August 
the Parliament House was unusually full, and a scrutiny of the 
faces showed there were many there who had never sat in a 
parliament before. 1 In ancient times the whole landed pro- 
prietors who held their estates directly by charter from the 

1 Keith, book i. chap, xii., gives the parliamentary roll. The new- 
comers far outnumbered all the others. 


crown, as well as the titled nobility, possessed the privilege of 
appearing in the legislature ; but the difficulty and expense of 
travelling to the capital had prevented their regular attend- 
ance, and for nearly a century their right had fallen into 
abeyance. 1 Now, upwards of a hundred of these appeared 
and claimed their seats, and after some ineffectual opposition, 
their claim was allowed. This secured an overwhelming 
majority in favour of reform. 

The next question debated was, whether or not they might 
now proceed to business, seeing that no commission had as 
yet been received from the queen. Some held that the want 
of a commission was fatal to the parliament, others that the 
terms of the treaty supplied the defect, and after a discussion 
which lasted for a week, a vote was taken, and it was carried 
that they should continue their sittings. 2 Maitland of Lething- 
ton was chosen " harangue-maker," and next were chosen the 
Lords of the Articles, whose business it was to prepare the 
measures to be brought before the Estates. When the election 
was over the clergy declared that, of those taken from their body, 
several were mere laics and all were apostates. 3 But remon- 
strance was useless; the banks of the old mill-dam were bursting, 
and it was already evident in what direction the flood would 
flow, and what institutions would be swept away in its course. 

These were but out-post skirmishes, and the great battle was 
yet to be fought. A petition was presented in name of " the 
barons, gentlemen, burgesses, and other true subjects of this 
realm, professing the Lord Jesus within the same," praying that 
idolatry should be abolished, the sacraments administered in 
their original purity, the discipline of the ancient Church 
restored, and the patrimony usurped by the Pope applied to 
the maintenance of a true ministry, the founding of schools, 
and the support of the poor. This document, which Knox 
has preserved, 4 unfortunately abounds in coarse and unbecom- 
ing language, for which we can scarcely find an apology in the 
rudeness of the times. After some debate, the barons and 
ministers who had presented the petition were called and 
" commandment given unto them to draw into plain and several 
heads, the sum of that doctrine which they would maintain, 
and would desire the present parliament to establish as whole- 

1 There is an excellent dissertation on this subject in Pinkerton's 
History, vol. ii. 

2 Keith's History, hook i. chap. xii. Tytler's History, vol. vi. 

3 Spottiswood, lib. iii. ' History, book iii. 


some, true, and only necessary to be believed, and to be 
received within the realm.'' 1 The task was undertaken, and in 
four days it was accomplished. 

This Confession of Faith was contained in twenty-five 
articles, treating respectively — of God ; Of the Creation of 
Man ; Of Original Sin ; Of the Revelation of the Promises ; Of 
the Continuance, Increase, and Preservation of the Church ; 
Of the Incarnation of Christ Jesus ; Of why it behoveth the 
Mediator to be Very God and Very Man ; Of Flection ; Of 
Christ's Death, Passion, and Burial; Of the Resurrection; Of 
the Ascension ; Of Faith in the Holy Ghost ; Of the Cause of 
Good Works ; Of what Works are reputed good before God ; 
Of the Perfection of the Law and the Imperfection of Man ; 
Of the Church ; Of the Immortality of the Soul ; Of the Notes 
by which the True Church is Discerned from the False, and 
who shall be Judge of the Doctrine ; Of the Authority of 
the Scriptures ; Of General Councils, of their Power, Author- 
ity, and cause of their Convention ; Of the Sacraments ; Of 
the Right Administration of the Sacraments; Of those to whom 
Sacraments Appertain ; Of the Civil Magistrate ; Of the Gifts 
freely given to the Church. It is a clear and logical summary 
of Calvinistic doctrine, more concise and less definite than the 
Westminster Confession, but agreeing with it in every essential 

It was first submitted to the Lords of the Articles, and 
afterwards to the whole parliament, some of the ministers 
attending to give any explanations that might be required, or 
defend any of the doctrines that might be impugned. 2 In 
order that so grave a matter might not be done hurriedly, an 
adjournment took place to give time for reflection, and when 
the parliament again met, the Confession was again read over 
article by article. The vote was then taken which was to 
decide the faith of many succeeding generations in Scotland. 
Man by man was asked his opinion. Of the temporal peers 
present, the Earls of Athole, Caithness, and Cassillis, and the 
Lords Somerville and Borthwick, alone said " Xo " to the new 
creed, declaring they would believe as their fathers believed. 3 

1 Knox's History 7 , book iii. 2 Ibid. 

: * Upon the authority of a letter from Randolph to Cecil, Tytler mentions 
only Cassillis and Caithness as dissenting. Knox says that Athole, Somer- 
vilie, and Borthwick opposed the new creed. We may safely reg?rd 
either list as imperfect, and conclude that the two combined give the 
nearest approximation to the truth. Neither Randolph nor Knox would 
place among their opponents nobles who were their friends. 


Of the Spiritual Estate, of whom few were present, the Bishops 
of St Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane alone made an effort 
at resistance ; the others, seeing that opposition would be use- 
less, " spake nothing." l The great victory was won. The 
enthusiasm of the assembly was at the highest, and the vener- 
able Lord Lindsay rose and declared that he could say with 
Simeon — " Now, Lord, let thy servant depart in peace, for 
mine eyes have seen thy salvation." 2 

It was on the 17th of August that the Parliament adopted 
the Confession of Knox as the confession of its faith. But 
something more required to be done to make the work of 
Reformation complete. On the 24th of the month the Estates 
again assembled, and passed three acts which finished the long 
reign of Romanism in the country. By the first it was statute 
and ordained that all previous acts of parliament regarding the 
censures of the Church, or the worshipping of saints, should 
be annulled and deleted from the statute-book. By the second, 
the Pope's jurisdiction was abolished within the realm. By 
the third, to say a mass or hear a mass was made criminal ; 
the first offence to be punished with confiscation of goods ; 
the second with banishment ; the third with death. 3 

The intolerance which the Romish Church had meted out 
to others was now meted out to herself; so had an eternal 
Providence ordained. But, at the same time, w r ho does not 
wish that our reforming forefathers had not marred the beauty 
of their glorious work by penal statutes written in blood ? 

1 Knox says that none of the clergy made any opposition ; but Tytler 
produces a letter from Lethington to Cecil, in which the Bishops of Dun- 
blane and Dunkeld pray for delay to consider a matter so important. 
There is still extant a letter from the Archbishop of St Andrews to the 
Archbishop of Glasgow, dated the 1 8th of August, in which he hints 
that he also opposed the reception of the new Confession. See Keith. 
There is also a suspicion of intimidation having been used, and the arch- 
bishop speaks as if he had been threatened with assassination. There 
is also a letter from Throckmorton, in which he gives an account of the 
parliament, and mentions the Archbishop of St Andrews as opposing, 
though not very decisively, the New Faith. 

2 MS. Letter, State-Paper Office, Randolph to Cecil, 19th August 1560, 
quoted by Tytler, vol. vi. 

3 Knox's History, book iii. Keith's History, book i. chap. xii. 



A contrast has frequently been drawn between the Reforma- 
tion in England, and the Reformation in Scotland. In the 
one country we are told, it was effected by the king ; in the 
other, by the people. In the one, it was the product of 
despotic power ; in the other, it resulted from the persuasive- 
ness of preaching. In the one, the movement was more than 
half political ; in the other, it was entirely religious. In the 
one, the primary object was to abolish the jurisdiction of the 
Pope ; in the other, the object from first to last was to purify 
the sanctuary. This is only partially true. The Reformation 
in Scotland was certainly much more a popular movement 
than it was in England ; but in its springs it was not entirely 
popular, at least in the modern sense of the phrase. We 
shall approach nearer the truth if we say that it was baronial 
in Scotland as it was monarchical in England. In the south of 
the island, the monarch was omnipotent, and he reformed the 
Church ; in the north, the barons were always a match for 
the throne, even when a vigorous king sat upon it, and much 
more than a match for it when it was filled by a child ; and 
so they took the matter in hand, and accomplished the Refor- 
mation. Had it not been for the favour of the oligarchy, 
Knox would have preached in vain, or rather he would never 
have preached at all. 

We have already remarked that the ignorance of the peas- 
antry precluded the possibility of their originating the con- 
troversy. But from the first, we find the nobility and gentry, 
who were now, in a measure, educated men, bidding welcome 
to the Protestant opinions. Even during the lifetime of James 
V. such converts were numerous. Beaton is said to have 
presented to the king a list of three hundred and sixty landed 
proprietors who were suspected of heresy. So long as the 
king lived they were kept in check ; but he was no sooner 
gone, than their power began to be seen. The return of the 
prisoners taken at the Solway, and who, while in England, 
had conversed with Cranmer at Lambeth, and contracted a 
fondness for English pensions, Reformation principles, and 
monastic spoil, increased their numbers and quickened their 
zeal. They had influence enough to set aside Beaton's pre- 
tensions, and raise the Protestant Earl of Arran to the regency. 


They had numbers enough to outvote the clergy, and get an 
act passed allowing the Scriptures to be read in the vulgar 
tongue. When Wishart began to preach he was protected by 
powerful barons. When he died, a conspiracy of barons 
avenged him. Knox's hatred of Rome was nursed in the 
same baronial halls which had shelted Wishart. He came 
from Ormiston and Longniddry to thunder against idolatry at 
St Andrews, which was now held by a few Protestant barons 
against the might of the country. When he returned from cap- 
tivity, by barons again was he befriended, and under the shadow 
of their power he preached. When he was dwelling at Geneva, 
an exile from his native country, the barons leagued them- 
selves together, assumed the name of the Lords of the Con- 
gregation, and began the armed struggle which resulted in the 
triumph of the Reformation. 

Feudalism was still strong in Scotland, and the faith of 
the lord naturally became the faith of the vassal. It was in 
those districts of the country where the barons had become 
Protestant that the populace became Protestant too. Argyll 
and Glencairn were all-powerful in the western counties, and 
the western counties were the stronghold of the Reforma- 
tion. The Earl of Rothes, Lord Lindsay, and the Lord 
James Stewart had Fife at their devotion ; and Fife was for 
reform. Lord Ruthven was provost of Perth, and Erskine 
of Dun was provost of Montrose, and his influence extended 
to Dundee ; and Perth, Montrose, and Dundee were con- 
spicuous among the towns for their thorough-going Pro- 
testantism. On the other hand, where Huntly was lord, the 
Reformation made little progress, so much so, that after the 
mass was abolished by parliament, this potent earl boasted 
that he could set it up again in three counties ; and strange 
to say, in some of these very districts, Popery has lingered 
till the present day. Glasgow, Paisley, and the country 
around them vacillated with the vacillations of the dominant 
house of Hamilton. Carrick was strongly Protestant in the 
days of Wishart ; it was not so much so in the days of Knox. 
The explanation is — the old Earl of Cassillis was a staunch 
Reformer ; the new earl was not. In his famous letter 
from Dieppe, Knox reminded the Scottish nobles of their 
duty as feudal chiefs — they ought to care for the faith of 
their followers. In more than one of their manifestoes, the 
Lords of the Congregation appealed to their feudal position 
as the vindication of their conduct — their duty to their 

A.D. 1560.] THE BARONS. 279 

dependents and the State constrained them. As feudal 
barons they brow- beat the regent; and as feudal barons they 
deposed her. 

Knox was unquestionably a great instrument in effecting 
the Reformation ; but we are inclined to regard the preacher 
as an instrument in the hands of the barons, rather than the 
barons as instruments in the hands of the preacher. Knox 
had but to preach, surrounded by his powerful patrons, and 
his words were like sledge hammers, beating down abbeys, 
images, and altars. Priests, friars, nuns, were scattered like 
chart before the breath of his nostrils. He had but to draw 
up a Confession of Faith, and the parliament with acclama- 
tions received it. But when he differed from the nobles, he 
became weak as another man. When he suggested a truly 
wise application of the revenues of the Church, he was treated 
with derision and contempt. He could pull down the old 
house, but he could not, as he would, build up the new one. 
The " Book of Discipline," as we shall shortly see, was not 
received with the same enthusiasm as the " Book of Doc- 
trines." The needy nobles, the possessors of barren moors 
and mountains, had been hungering and thirsting for the well- 
cultivated lands of the churchmen, and now they were not to 
be baulked of their prey. 

The Reformations in the sister countries have been con- 
trasted in anotiier way. The one, it has been said, was con- 
stitutional, legal, orderly, without mobbings, without violence; 
the other was the offspring, of treason and rebellion, and 
characterised throughout by rioting and popular outrage. 
Here, again, we have the partial truth, not the whole truth. 
It may have been constitutional for a despotic king and cor- 
rupt parliament to make millions believe backwards and 
forwards at their bidding ; but was it right ? It may have 
been treasonable and rebellious for a numerous aristocracy 
to rise against their sovereign, and insist upon being allowed 
to worship their own God in their own way ; but was it 
wrong ? It were a sorry world in which we live had there 
been no treasons, no rebellions ; had the iron rod of the 
oppressor never been broken ; had the neck been eternally- 
bowed to the yoke. It may be true that in England there 
were no mobbings, and that the monasteries were there 
spoiled under the decencies of law, and the ridiculous pre- 
text of voluntary surrenders ; but spoiled they nevertheless 
were, as effectually as in Scotland. It may be true that in 


Scotland popular passions were let loose against Religious 
Houses, venerable for their antiquity, and admired for their 
architecture ; but surely it is much more easy to justify the 
illegal outrages of a rabble, than the legalised spoliations of 
a king and his parliament. In England, the monarch did 
violence to the people ; in Scotland, the people did violence 
to the monarch. 

But foreign elements mingled in the Scottish Reformation 
struggle, and in the end decided it. Around Leith were 
gathered the interests of Popery and Protestantism ; and 
Leith was held by a French garrison, and besieged by an 
English army. France was Scotland's ancient ally, England 
was her nearest neighbour. Had England, the stronger 
country, always acted with fairness toward Scotland, the 
weaker one, it had been the plain policy of Scotland to have 
cherished her friendship. But it had not been so, and Scot- 
land, in her weakness, had sought and obtained the alliance 
of France. The war of independence had caused wounds 
which were not easily healed, and the defeat of Flodden and 
the slaughter of Pinkie had opened them up again. Up to 
this time, England was both hated and feared. But Eliza- 
beth pursued a different policy, and easily subdued by 
intrigue a country which all her predecessors had failed to 
subdue by arms. English spies were in the court and the 
castle, and a very little English gold went a long way 
with nobles of great pretensions and slender means. The 
English alliance grew in favour — the French alliance de- 
clined. The French secured the queen, and she continued 
a Papist ; the English prevailed with the people, and they all 
turned Protestant. 

Even before Protestantism had received its parliamentary 
establishment, it had, in a measure, taken possession of the 
country. The treaty of Leith was no sooner signed, and the 
French and English troops withdrawn, than the few preachers 
of the Reformation who could be found were located in the 
different towns, to keep alive the zeal of the populace. John 
Knox was appointed to Edinburgh, Christopher Goodman to 
St Andrews, Adam Heriot to Aberdeen, John Row to Perth, 
Paul Methven to Jedburgh, William Christison to Dundee, 
David Ferguson to Dunfermline, and David Lindsay to Leith. 
Besides these ordinary ministers, the primitive Protestant 
Church of Scotland recognised a class of office-bearers called 
superintendents, appointed, says Knox, to see ''that all things in 


the Church were carried with order, and well ;* and of these John 
Spottiswood was appointed for Lothian, John Winram for Fife, 
John Willock for Glasgow, Erskine of Dun for Angus and 
Mearns, and John Carswell for Argyll and the Isles. 1 These 
eight ministers and five superintendents formed the first staff 
of the Reformed Church. 

The parliament had received a new creed, and had passed 
acts abolishing the mass" and the jurisdiction of the Pope 
within the realm. But still the work was but half done. The 
old Church had been thrown down — a new one must be 
reared out of its ruins. It was not enough that preachers 
should perambulate the country, or be settled in towns ; pro- 
vision must be made for their maintenance, rules must be laid 
down for their conduct, legal authority must be given to their 
acts. Well-nigh the half of the whole wealth of the kingdom 
had belonged to the Romish Church, and the Romish Church 
was no more. What was to be done with it? The mass was 
prohibited, the invocation of saints was prohibited, the whole 
service of the ancient worship was prohibited. What was now 
to be substituted in their stead ? The jurisdiction of Rome 
was at an end. W T hat other jurisdiction was to succeed it? 
These questions must be solved ; and accordingly, soon after 
the dissolution of parliament, a commission was given to 
Knox, Spottiswood, Winram, Willock, and Row, to draw up a 
Book of Policy for the Protestant Church. 2 

The product of their labour remains, and is generally known 
as the " First Book of Discipline." No document could 
possibly throw more light upon the opinions of the Reformers. 
It is, in fact, the plan of the temple they designed to rear. If 
in anything our Church, as it now stands, differs from the 
" Book of Discipline " — if it has not the breadth of founda- 
tion, or height of pinnacle, or richness of ornament there 
indicated, it is because the after execution has fallen short of 
the original plan — it is because the builders who raised the 
fabric had not the same views as the architects who designed 
it. The " First Book of Discipline " is divided into sixteen 
chapters, but we shall endeavour to explain the ecclesiastical 
polity which it shadows forth under three heads — The Office- 
bearers of the New Church, their election and admission \ 

1 Knox's Hist., book iii. Spottiswood's Hist., lib. iii. 

2 The First Book of Discipline is addressed to "The Great Councell 
of Scotland now admitted to the Regiment, by the providence of God, 
and by the Common consent of the Estates thereof," &c 


The Worship and Discipline of the New Church ; The Patri- 
mony of the Old Church, and its appropriation by the New. 

I. The Office-bearers of the New Church. 

Of these there were four orders — the superintendent, the 
minister, the elder, and the deacon. 

The " First Book of Discipline " divides the whole country 
into ten dioceses, which were tobe presided over by ten super- 
intendents. Their duty was to erect kirks, appoint pastors 
in places hitherto unprovided, and give the occasional benefit 
of a learned ministry in localities which could not otherwise 
enjoy that privilege at all. Their labours are minutely de- 
tailed. They must preach at least thrice every week ; they 
must not remain in the chief town of the diocese, where their 
own church and residence were, longer than three or four 
months at a time : when on a visitation, they must tarry in no 
one place longer than twenty days ; they must not only 
preach, but examine the life y diligence, and behaviour of the 
ministers, the order of the churches, and the manners of the 
people : they must see how the youth were instructed and the 
poor provided for ; and,, finally, take cognizance of any crimes 
which called for the correction of the Kirk. 

These magnates of the early Church have been the subject 
of fierce debate between Episcopal and Presbyterian writers. 
The Episcopal controversialist maintains that the Reformed 
Church of Scotland was Episcopal at the first, and that its 
Presbyterianism was the growth of a subsequent age. As we 
are sometimes told that presbyter is just priest written large, 
so we are told that the superintendent was just the bishop 
done into Latin. On the other hand, the Presbyterian dis- 
putant affirms that the superintendent of the Scotch Church 
was quite a different functionary from the bishop of the 
Roman and Anglican Churches ; and, moreover, that the 
office was designed to be temporary, and not perpetual. In a 
controversy like this, where we have authoritative documents 
upon which to proceed, there is no great difficulty in arriving 
at the precise truth. It must be conceded to the Episcopalian 
that the names coincide in meaning ; that superintendent is 
nothing but the Latin form *of the Greek episcopos. It must 
further be conceded, that the superintendent, like the bishop, 
had a diocese entrusted to his care, and that the duties 
imposed upon the one in many respects agreed with those 
discharged by the other : he was to make a periodical visita- 


tion of the churches in his diocese, and set everything in 
order. The ministers and readers, the elders and deacons, 
were amenable to his jurisdiction. But here concession must 
stop : here the similarity of the bishop and the superintendent 
ceases. In other respects there was a great gulph between 
them. The genuine bishop required to rise through the 
diaconate and priesthood to his episcopate ; the superin- 
tendent might at once be elevated from the laity to his 
superintendency. John Erskiine of Dun was a country 
gentleman when he was admitted superintendent of Angus 
and Mearns. 1 The bishop could be consecrated only by 
bishops ; the superintendent was admitted to his charge by 
presbyters. John Knox presided at the admission both of 
Spottiswood and Erskine. To the bishop belonged exclu- 
sively the power of ordination — through him the apostolic 
virtue was transmitted to the different office-bearers in the 
Church ; to the superintendent belonged no such exclusive 
privileges. The power of ordination belonged equally to 
every minister in the Church. The bishop was raised above 
the control of the presbyter ;. but the superintendent was 
made subject to the censure and correction of the ministers 
and elders of the province over which he presided, and no 
inconsistency or absurdity was felt as belonging to the arrange- 
ment. Would any stickler for a canonical episcopacy recog- 
nise such a superintendent as a true bishop? a bishop who 
had never been a deacon, never a priest ; a bishop consecrated 
by a presbyter ; a bishop with no exclusive powers of ordina- 
tion, and made subject to the clergy of his diocese? 

The language of the " Book of Discipline ,; seems to imply 
that the office of a superintendent was not designed to be 
perpetual in the Church. It was a temporary expedient to 
meet the exigencies of a country suddenly deprived of its 
ancient priesthood,, and not yet supplied with Protestant 
preachers. 2 In such a time, the creation of such an office was 
most politic and wise, it could scarcely have been dispensed 

1 This, however, leads us back to the time when Ambrose was taken 
from the courts of law, even against his will, and at once set upon the 
Episcopal throne of Milan. 

2 " We have thought good to signify to your honours such reasons as 

moved us to make difference betwixt preachers at this tune We 

have thought it a thing most expedient at this time, that from the whole 
number of godly and learned men, now presently in this realm, be selected 
ten or twelve, to whom charge and commandment should be given to 
plant and erect kirks," &c. (First Book of Discipline, chap, vi.) 


with ; and he must be blindly wedded to Presbyterian parity 
who would grudge these Presbyterian bishops the superiority 
they enjoyed over their brethren. That they did enjoy a 
superiority it were useless to deny. 

Next to the superintendent came the minister, whose office, 
as defined in the " Book of Discipline," agrees exactly with 
what it is now. But as men of sufficient learning to supply all 
the parishes in the country with ministers could not at once 
be found, men of inferior attainments, denominated readers, 
were to be temporarily employed in the destitute districts. It 
was the duty of these to read the Common Prayers and the 
Scriptures to the people, but they were forbidden to adminis- 
ter the sacraments. They might also follow up their reading 
with some suitable exhortation, and if they attained to fluency 
in this exercise, they might then, with the approbation of the 
superintendent, be raised to the full status of ministers. Thus 
this system of readerships not merely supplied a temporary 
want, but served as a school in which men were trained for the 
ministerial work, for no college curriculum had as yet been 
prescribed. Ministers are specially forbidden to haunt the 
court, to be members of the Council, or to board in taverns or 

The elders were to be " men of best knowledge in God's 
Word, and cleanest life, men faithful and of most honest con- 
versation that could be found in the Church." Their duty 
was " to assist the ministers in all public affairs of the kirk, to 
wit, in determining and judging causes, in giving admonition 
to the licentious liver, in having respect to the manners and 
conversation of all men within their charge." " They ought also 
to take heed to the life, manners, diligence, and study of their 
ministers. If he be worthy of admonition, they must admon- 
ish him ; of correction, they must correct him ; and if he be 
worthy of deposition, they, with the consent of the kirk and 
superintendent, may depose him, so that his crime deserve so." 
The deacons were " to receive the rents and gather the alms of 
the kirk, to keep and distribute the same as by the ministers 
and kirk shall be appointed ; they may also assist in judgment 
with the ministers and elders ; and may be admitted to read in 
assembly if they be required, and be able thereto." The elders 
and deacons were to be elected only for a year, lest they 
should presume too much ; and no stipend was to be assigned 
them for their labours, which were not deemed to be such as 
to withdraw them from their usual employments. 

a.d. 1560.] WORSHIP. 28 

Ordinary vocation is said to consist of three parts- -election, 
examination, and admission. The " Book of Discipline" sug- 
gests that the superintendents should be chosen by the Secret 
Council, with the approbation of the gentlemen and burgesses 
of their dioceses ; and that the ministers should be chosen by 
their parishioners. Being duly elected, the same course was 
to be pursued in regard to both superintendents and ministers ; 
their life, their doctrines, and their capabilities of edifying the 
people were to be tested ; a sermon was to be preached ; 
admonitions were to be addressed to all the parties concerned ; 
prayer was to be offered up ; and the presentee declared to be 
admitted to his charge. The imposition of hands was forbid- 
den : " for albeit the apostles used imposition of hands, yet see- 
ing the miracle is ceased, the using of the ceremony we judge 
not necessary." To preach the Word or administer the sacra- 
ments without a proper call, is declared to be worthy of death. 

II. The Worship and Discipline of the New Church, 
It is declared to be necessary that the Word should be 
preached, the sacraments administered, common prayers 
publicly made, the young and the ignorant instructed, and 
offenders punished; it is declared to be profitable, but not 
necessary, that psalms should be sung, that certain portions of 
Scripture should be read when there was no sermon, and that 
certain days should be observed on which the people might 
assemble in the churches. It is recommended that, in the 
great towns, there should be either sermon or common prayers, 
with some reading of the Scriptures every day ; and that in the 
smaller towns, one day beside the Sunday should be set apart 
for this purpose. On the Sunday the Word was to be preached, 
the sacraments administered, the children publicly catechized 
in the audience of the people, and the whole day observed as 
sacred. All holidays are abolished. All vows of continence, 
and all assumption of religious apparel, are declared to be sin- 
ful. All monuments and places of idolatry are ordered to be 

Besides the meetings for the preaching of the Word and the 
administration of the sacraments, the " Book of Discipline" 
directs, that in every town " where schools and repair of learned 
men are," there should be a weekly meeting for prophesying 
or interpreting the Scriptures. In these meetings every man 
was to have liberty to speak, to offer interpretations of hard 
passages, to suggest doubts, to solve difficulties ; but not to 


launch out into anything like preaching. The ministers in the 
neighbourhood were to attend these prophesyings, and at the 
close of the meeting to communicate to those who had spoken 
their opinion of the manner in which they had handled the 
matter. In this way it is said " shall the kirk have knowledge 
and judgment of the graces, gifts, and utterances of every man 
within their body ; the simple and such as have somewhat 
profited shall be encouraged daily to study and to proceed in 
knowledge ; and the whole kirk shall be edified/' 

In the Policy of the Church it is recommended that the 
sacrament of the Supper should be administered four times 
every year, the communicants sitting at a table, and partaking 
both of the bread and the wine, while the minister recited to 
them some comfortable passages of holy writ touching the 
death of Christ, and the benefits which flowed from it. Before 
being admitted to the Lord's table, persons were to be ex- 
amined if they could say the Lord's prayer, the Creed, and the 
Ten Commandments. The sacrament of baptism was to be 
administered in the church at convenient times. The use of 
oil, salt, wax, spittle, conjuration, and crossing is abolished, 
and the pure element of water alone was to be employed. 
Marriage was to be performed after the proclamation of banns 
upon a Sunday, and in the open face and public audience of 
the Church. The burial of the dead was to take place without 
any singing of mass, placebo, or dirge. No ceremony what- 
ever was to be used, no funeral sermon was to be preached, 
but " the dead committed to the grave with such gravity and 
sobriety as those that be present may seem to fear the judg- 
ments of God, and to hate sin, which is the cause of death." 

In the "Book of Discipline" there is frequent reference to 
the Common Prayers and the Order of Geneva. This liturgi- 
cal form, it would appear, had now begun to supersede the 
First Book of Edward VI., which had hitherto been used by 
the Scotch Reformers as a guide in their devotions. It had 
been printed together with the metrical version of the Psalms, 
and now received the stamp of authority from the " Book of 
Discipline." 1 It was chiefly the composition of John Knox, 
and was used by him at Geneva. It contained morning and 
evening prayers, an order of baptism, an order for the adminis- 
tration of the Lord's Supper, a form of marriage, a visitation of 
the sick, and there were afterwards added to it a form for the 

1 When reference is made to the Psalm Book at this period and for 
long afterwards, the liturgy with the psalms attached is meant. 

A.D. 1560.] DISCIPLINE. 287 

election of superintendents and ministers, and an order for 
excommunication and public repentance. The officiating 
minister was allowed by the rubric to deviate from the forms 
of prayer prescribed, but still these were to be considered as 
his guide, and we need not hesitate to admit that this liturgy 
was generally used for many years in the Reformed Church of 
Scotland. Some of the prayers, for transparency of diction 
and beauty of piety, will compare with the much-lauded com- 
positions of the Anglican Prayer-Book ; but in general they 
are prolix and involved, and appear never to have taken much 
hold upon the hearts of the people. The Lord's prayer is 
frequently introduced, and the whole compilation is charac- 
terized by good sense and sobriety of religious feeling. The 
rubric instructs us that the Church-service began with a prayer, 
containing a confession of sin; then a portion of the Scriptures 
was read; then a psalm was sung; then an extemporaneous 
prayer was offered up by the minister ; then followed the 
sermon, a prayer, a psalm ; and finally the congregation was 
dismissed with the benediction. 1 

The discipline of the early Church was stern — perhaps too 
stern for frail human nature. Every kind of immorality was 
taken cognisance of — drunkenness, profane swearing, impurity, 
excess in eating, in drinking, or in dress, oppression of the 
poor, the use of a false weight or measure, wanton words, 
licentious living, everything which fell short of the perfect law. 
Heresy, idolatry, adultery, and several other crimes were pro- 
nounced worthy of death, and it was declared to be the duty 
of the civil magistrate to see the sentence carried into execu- 
tion. In the case of offenders who continued obstinate and 
unrepentant notwithstanding the admonitions of the Church, 
the sentence of excommunication was to be pronounced. This 
sentence was scarcely less dreadful than the anathema of Rome. 
When it was pronounced, none, saving his wife and family, 

1 So early as 1567 the Prayer-Book was translated into Gaelic by John 
Carswell, Bishop of the Isles, and is said to have been the first Gaelic 
book ever printed. It was entitled " Foirm na Nurrnuidheadh," or Forms 
of Prayer. The bishop knew that this book would be treated with ridicule 
by the bards who still continued Papists, and who would regard printing 
as an innovation. "Well do I know," said he, in his Apologetic In- 
troduction, " that the Papists especially, and above all the old satirical 
priests, will vomit malice against me, and that my work will procure me 
from them only scandal and reproach." A curious and highly-interest- 
ing notice of this work will be found in Leyden's " Scottish Descriptive 
Poems," &.C. The only copy of Carswell's translation known to exist is 
said to be in the possession of the Duke of Argyll. 


might have any dealings, in eating or drinking, in buying or 
selling, in saluting or talking, with the excommunicated man. 
He was to be as one accursed, and cut off from all society. 
When the delinquent, however, was brought to repentance, he 
was to be absolved of his sin, and received back into the bosom 
of the Church. The " Book of Discipline " recommends that 
" a solemn and special prayer should be drawn for the purpose, 
that the thing might be more gravely done ;" and accordingly 
an order of excommunication and of public repentance was 
afterwards added to the liturgy. It shows the discipline of the 
Church to have been much more formal and operose then than it 
is now ; perhaps more faithful, certainly more severe. The form 
of absolution, however, would now be pronounced papistical, 
as it is not declarative, but authoritative. The minister autho- 
ritatively absolves the penitent of his sin, and pronounces it to 
be loosed in heaven. The " Book of Discipline " says nothing 
of the government of the Church by kirk-sessions, presbyteries, 
synods, and General Assemblies ; but it is easy to trace in it 
the rudimental forms of all these courts. The minister required 
to meet with his elders and deacons ; out of this grew the 
kirk-session. The ministers within six miles of the notable 
towns required to meet at the prophesyings or weekly exercises, 
and neighbour ministers required to meet with each other for 
several other purposes ; here was the embryo presbytery. The 
superintendent required to meet with the clergy of his diocese 
for ordering many things connected with the government of the 
Church ; this was the genesis of the synod. From the first 
year of its existence the whole Church met in General Assembly. 

III. The patrimony of the Old Church, and its appropriation 
by the New. 

The " Book of Discipline " proposed to remit all mortuary 
clues and Easter offerings. All the other possessions, rents, 
and revenues of the ancient Church, whether they belonged to 
bishoprics, religious houses, or parishes, were to be appro- 
priated by the new establishment, and lifted as they fell due by 
the deacons. Being thus appropriated and realised, they were 
to be applied to three great purposes — the maintenance of the 
ministry, the education of youth, and the support of the poor. 
For these purposes had the hierarchy been endowed \ and these 
very purposes did the Protestant clergy now propose to fulfil. 1 

1 The Romanists themselves acknowledged that these endowments had 
been received for these three purposes. " Quhidder cumis it be zour ex- 


It was the smallest possible alienation of funds doted by piety 
for particular purposes, and such dotations ought ever to be 
regarded as peculiarly sacred. The scheme does honour to 
Knox, and proves that, with all his roughness, he was pos- 
sessed of a great and liberal mind. He appears more truly 
great in his attempts to build up the new Church, though 
therein he Jailed, than in his efforts to throw down the old one, 
though therein he succeeded. But let us examine the plan a 
little more narrowly. 

It is suggested that the superintendent should have a stipend 
of about six chalders beer, nine chalders meal, three chalders 
oats, and six hundred merks of money, to be increased or 
decreased at the discretion of the prince and council of the 
realm. It is suggested that the minister should have at least 
forty bolls of meal, twenty-six bolls of malt, to find his house 
in bread and drink, and an allowance of money beside, to be 
fixed yearly by his congregation. The readers were to have a 
salary of forty or fifty merks, according as they might agree 
with the parishioners among whom they laboured. It must be 
confessed that here there was no greed or grasping on the part 
of the clergy; the allowances they asked for themselves were 
extremely moderate. The stipend of the superintendent is 
not greater than a city living at the present day, and the 
stipend of the minister, though not so precisely defined, we may 
conclude was not more liberal than that now enjoyed by the 
ministers of rural parishes. " The Book of Discipline," how- 
ever, demanded that some provision should be made for the 
widows and children of those who devoted themselves to the 
ministry, upon salaries which did not enable them to accumu- 
late wealth. The sons of the clergy were to have the freedom 
of the towns adjacent to the parishes in which their fathers had 
lived and laboured. If they had an aptitude for learning they 
were to be maintained at the schools, and have a bursary in 
the college ; if they had no such aptitude, they were to be put 
to some useful trade. The daughters were to be virtuously 
brought up, and honestly dowered when they came to maturity, 
at the discretion of the Kirk. 

The second part of the scheme was the education of the 
youth of the country, a duty which hitherto the Romish priest- 
hood had performed, though in an imperfect way. The " Book 

hortation or nocht that mony desyris the kirk-landis anis dedicat to God, 
for sustentation of godly mini.steris, puir studentis, and feble and waik 
indigentis," &c. (Ninian YVingate, 62.) 



of Discipline " proposes that to every church there should be 
attached a school ; that in every large town, especially in the 
towns of the superintendents, there should be erected a college 
or grammar school ; and that the Universities of St Andrews, 
Glasgow, and Aberdeen should be liberally endowed. Here, 
then, we have a parochial system of education chalked out, a 
system whose foundations were laid amid such humble liter- 
ature as the peasantry could receive, but whose pinnacles 
reached to the highest regions of learning, a system starting 
from the village school and ending with the university. It was 
the foreshadow of the system which was afterwards realised in 
our country, but the shadow was more perfect than the reality. 
It is worked out in the " Book of Discipline " with great 
minuteness, and while we may not approve of its every detail, 
in all its leading outlines it discovers a genius for policy worthy 
of the greatest statesman. 

The third part of the scheme was the sustenance of the 
poor. The Christian Church has ever considered the poor to 
be the special objects of its care. In Romish times many 
hospitals had been founded for the reception of the sick, the 
infirm, and the indigent ; and every monastery, in fact, was akind 
of alms-house. When the Reformation was on the eve of being 
accomplished, bishops bemoaned the misfortunes that would 
befall the poor ; but the Reformers showed their knowledge of 
Christian duty, and their respect for the intention of the donors 
of the Church-property, when they resolved to take the poor 
under their charge. Both before and after the Reformation, 
Scotland seems to have swarmed with beggars. Among these 
there were not only the aged and sick, but strong, sturdy vaga- 
bonds, who haunted the public roads and entered the farm- 
houses, and received alms more from fear than from charity. 
The "Book of Discipline "proposed that the able-bodied should 
be compelled to work, but that the aged and infirm should be 
made to return to their native parishes, and be there provided 

The Church is said to have anciently possessed one-half of 
the whole property of the kingdom. Even a moiety of this, 
had it been carefully preserved and improved, would have 
abundantly maintained the ecclesiastical, educational, and 
pauper establishments of the kingdom, and the community been 
saved from three of the heaviest taxes which now press upon it. 
The gospel would be preached, every child educated, the poor 
provided for, without cost. No one would lose anything ; 

A.D. 1560.] SPOLIATION. 29 1 

only some proprietors would never have possessed their exten- 
sive domains. Some great lords would be but country gentle- 
men with small estates ; and others might rejoice in ancient 
titles, but lack the broad acres which now give them support. 
Public officers, and not private factors, would be lifting the 
rents of the monasteries ; and yet the present holders could 
not be said to have lost what, according to our supposition, 
they never possessed. The community would have reaped, 
as it ought to have done, the benefit of the Church's accumu- 
lated wealth. 

The same agencies which deposited the endowments of the 
Roman hierarchy are operating still \ and if sufficient time- 
be allowed, the accumulation will again become equally great. 
Men are every now and then dying and leaving money to 
build a church, to found an hospital, to endow a school. The 
funds thus devoted must go on increasing — they cannot 
decrease \ and we can contemplate the time when our ecclesi- 
astical, educational, and pauper establishments will be sus- 
tained by this source alone, without need of assessments. 
How sad if the few were again to sweep away the wealth thus 
slowly accumulated for the benefit of the many ! 

From the first brush of the Reformation, it was evident 
that the Church's property would have an important influence 
upon the struggle. The hungry nobles were coveting the well- 
fed churchmen. So early as 1543, the Regent Arran confessed 
to Sadler that so many great men were Papists, that unless the 
sin of covetousness made them Reformers, he saw no other 
way in which the Reformation could be effected. 1 When the 
battle commenced, the barons instantly began to relieve the 
churchmen of the trouble of lifting their rents. When the 
victory was won, Knox perceived the danger of the Church 
being not merely purged of its idolatry, but stripped of its 
possessions, and turned out naked upon the streets ; and 
therefore, while the parliament of 1560 was yet sitting, he 
began a course of lectures upon Haggai, and we can conceive 
the indignant tones in which he demanded of the barons who 
filled the nave of St Gile's — " Is it a time for you, O ye, to 
dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste ? Go up 
to the mountain and bring wood, and build the house ; and I 
will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. 
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of 
hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of 

1 Sadler, State Papers, &c, vol. i. Keith's Hist., book i. chap. iii. 


the former, and in this place will I give peace." But if Knox 
could declaim, there were barons who could sneer at his 
declamation. " We may now forget ourselves,'' said Mait- 
land, " and bear the barrow to build the house of God." 1 

When the " Book of Discipline " was presented to the Privy 
Council for its approval, the same spirit became still more 
manifest. Maitland again had his sneer, and declared the 
whole affair to be " a devout imagination." Knox now sud- 
denly found himself in the midst of a den of thieves, and he 
broke out with scorching sarcasm. " Some," says he, " were 
licentious, some had greedily gripped the possessions of the 
Church, and others thought that they would not lack their 
part of Christ's coat ; yea, and that before that ever He was 
hanged, as by the preachers they were oft rebuked. The 
chief great man that had professed Christ Jesus, and refused 
to subscribe the ' Book of Discipline,' was the Lord Erskine ; 
and no wonder, for, besides that he has a very Jezebel to 
his wife, if the poor, the schools, and the ministry of the 
Church had their own, his kitchen would lack two parts and 
more of that which he unjustly now possesseth. Assuredly 
some of us have wondered how men that profess godliness 
could of so long continuance hear the threatenings of God 
against thieves and against their houses, and knowing them- 
selves guilty in such things as were openly rebuked, and that 
they never had remorse of conscience, neither yet intended to 
restore anything of that which long they had stolen and reft. 
There were none within the realm more unmerciful to the poor 
ministers than were they which had greatest rents of the 
churches ; but in that we have perceived the old proverb to 
be true, ' Nothing can suffice a wretch ; ' and again, ' The 
belly hath no ears.'" 2 

The Secret Council, as a body, could never be induced to 
give its approval to the " First Book of Discipline." But on 
the 17th of January 1561, thirty-three barons and proselytized 
prelates put their names as individual subscribers to a docu- 
ment, in which they gave it their sanction, and promised to 
do their best to carry it into execution. 3 The subscription 
was useless, and in many cases was insincere. Thus this plan 
for the building of the second temple was discarded, simply 
because it proposed to apply ecclesiastical property to ecclesi- 
astical uses. It might have been supposed that barons so 
zealous for religion would have themselves been religious, 

1 Knox's History, book iii. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 


and that being religious they would have been honest, but it 
was not so. In the case of many, a desire to clutch the Church's 
lands and tithes had much more to do with making them re- 
formers than any love for Calvinism. A knowledge of men, 
and of the motives which concur in promoting the best of 
causes, will lessen our surprise, and let us see that the same 
thing has happened more than once in the history of the world. 
But though the " First Book of Discipline " did not receive the 
sanction of the parliament or council, it was acted upon by 
the Church, so far as the Church could act upon it. The 
ecclesiastical arrangements were carried out, though the 
ecclesiastical revenues could not be touched. It is said that 
the Archbishop of St Andrews, when he saw the day lost, and 
the ruin of his party irretrievable, sent a message to Knox, 
urging him, while he changed the doctrines of the Church, to 
maintain its ancient policy, as in that way only could he hope 
to preserve its property ; but Knox was too thorough a Re- 
former to listen to the advice. 1 

On the 20th December 1560, the first General Assembly 
of the Reformed Church of Scotland met in Magdalen 
Chapel, in the Cowgate of Edinburgh. It consisted of but 
forty-one members, of whom only six were ministers. They 
sat as " the ministers and commissioners of the particular 
kirks of Scotland, convened upon the things which are to set 
forward God's glory, and the weal of His Kirk in this realm."- 
The chief business of this Assembly was to give its approval 
to a number of persons who were recommended to it as 
readers, ministers, and superintendents. Acts were also 
passed in regard to the laws of consanguinity, the election of 
ministers, elders, and deacons, the confirmation of testa- 
ments ; and ordaining that those who had borne office in the 
Popish Church, and were of honest conversation, should be 
supported with the alms of the Kirk, as other poor ; that the 
parliament should be petitioned to admit none to public 
offices but such as were of the Reformed religion, and to 
punish sharply all sayers and hearers of mass. This Assembly 
seems to have continued its sittings during seven days, when 
it adjourned to meet on the 15th of January 1561. 

Of the Assembly appointed to meet in January, if it ever 
met, we have no record; but on the 15th of that month, a 
Convention of the Estates was held, in which grave matters 

1 Spottiswood's History, lib. iii. 

2 Book of the Universal Kirk, p. 1. Keith, book iii. chap. i. 


affecting the Church were debated. It was in this convention 
that the " Book of Discipline" was first examined, and then 
cast overboard. But the nobles, while refusing to sanction 
the new ecclesiastical policy, wished to have their faith con- 
firmed by a disputation on the controverted points between 
the Papists and Protestants. There were therefore sum- 
moned into their presence, on the Romish side, John Lesley, 
Official of Aberdeen, and shortly afterwards Bishop of Ross, 
Alexander Anderson, Professor of Theology in Aberdeen, 
Patrick Myrtom, and James Strachan ; and on the side of 
the Reformers, John Knox, John Willock, and Christopher 
Goodman. It was on the mass that the debate principally 
hinged. We have an account of it from two of the com- 
batants, Knox and Lesley, and it is amusing to contrast their 
opposite descriptions of this polemical passage-at-arms. Knox 
declares that Anderson, who began the combat, was quickly 
silenced ; and that when Lesley came to his rescue, he could 
only say that he knew nothing but the canon law, where the 
great reasons for everything were nolumus and volumus ; 
words which Knox instantly fastened upon him as a nick- 
name. Lesley, on the other hand, relates that Anderson 
reasoned so learnedly, consistently, and piously, that the 
Catholics were confirmed, and the heretics confounded, and 
that, after that exhibition, no one dared to challenge him 
or any other Romanist to an encounter regarding the 
mysteries of his faith. Lesley adds that the nobles revenged 
themselves upon the triumphant Catholics by compelling 
them to remain in the city, and give attendance upon the 
sermons of the Protestant preachers, as if, says he, with a 
bitter sneer, the pandering speeches of these paltry rhetori- 
cians could convince men whom all their arguments had 
failed to move. 1 

In the month of May, the second General Assembly of 
which we have any record assembled in the Tolbooth at 
Edinburgh. It resolved that a petition should be presented 
to the Privy Council, praying that all monuments of idolatry 
should be destroyed, and all persons guilty of it proceeded 
against according to act of parliament ; that provision should 
be made for the superintendents, ministers, and readers, and 
punishments appointed for those who contemned their autho- 
rity ; that all despisers of the sacraments should be punished ; 
that no letters of session should be given for the payment of 
1 Knox's History, book iii. Lesley, lib. x. 


teinds, without the special provision that enough was retained 
for the maintenance of the ministry ; that no judge should 
proceed upon any precept at the instance of persons who had 
already obtained feus of vicarages, parson-houses, or church- 
yards ; that no warrants of any kind should be put in force 
till the stipends specified in the " Book of Discipline " for the 
maintenance of the ministry should be first consigned in the 
hands of the principal parishioners ; and, finally, that punish- 
ment should be inflicted upon any who might purchase, or 
publish within the realm, papal bulls. 1 

These articles of complaint and petition are highly signifi- 
cant, and show the means already being taken to alienate the 
property of the Church. Knox says that the Lords of Privy 
Council granted the prayer of the petition ; but we have little 
evidence that they acted upon any part of it, except that which 
related to the demolition of the monasteries. 2 With regard to 
these, they went to work with amazing alacrity. The execu- 
tion of the work was intrusted to the Earls of Arran, Argyll, 
and Glencairn, in the western counties ; and to the Lord 
James in the north ; and, if we may believe Spottiswood, a 
pitiful devastation ensued. 

It is undoubtedly more difficult to defend this demolition 
of Religious Houses than that which preceded it, notwith- 
standing that the one was done under the pretext of law, and 
the other in defiance of it. In the first case, the contest was 
raging, the issue was doubtful, men's passions were up, and 
the mob was not to be restrained ; in the second, the victory 
had been won, the flood of angry feeling had somewhat abated, 
and it was not the rascal rabble, but the lords of parliament 
who did the work. At the same time, it must be allowed that 
fear lest Popery should regain its lost ground was still strong, 
and that the public mind was in a state of intense excitement. 
These monasteries, if allowed to stand, might yet be re- 
occupied. It is also certain that the havoc made was not 
nearly so great as is frequently supposed. We have still 
remaining the commission issued for the purging of the 
Cathedral of Dunkeld, in which the Lairds of Arntilly and 
Kinvaid are instructed to pass to it incontinent, to take down 
the images, and bringing them out to the church-yard, to burn 
them publicly, to cast down the altars, and remove every 
vestige of idolatry ; but, at the same time, to be careful to do 
no damage to the desks, windows, or doors, either in respect 

1 Keith, book iii. chap. i. 2 Knox's History, book iv. 


of the glass-work or iron-work. 1 This, it must be acknow- 
ledged, was only a reasonable and needful reformation, and 
we shall understand it still better if we take it in conjunction 
with the chapter in the " First Book of Discipline," in which 
it is declared that the churches ought to be repaired in a 
manner fitting the majesty of God and the commodity of the 
people, and provided with doors, glass windows, thatch or 
slate, a bell, a pulpit, a basin for baptizing, and tables for 
administering the Lord's Supper. 2 There was no antipathy to 
churches of hoary antiquity and stately architecture ; it was 
only monasteries that were to be destroyed, and that part of 
the furniture of the churches which the Protestants deemed to 
be idolatrous. 

Immediately after the dissolution of the parliament which 
accepted the reformed Confession of Faith, Sir James Sandi- 
lands, Preceptor of the Knights of St John, had been 
despatched to France to obtain the queen's ratification of its 
acts. He was received with cold courtesy ; his request was 
refused ; and the Cardinal of Lorraine took an opportunity of 
saying to him, that he was surprised to find the head of an 
ecclesiastical military order so forgetful of his vows as to come 
upon such an errand. The queen, moreover, complained 
that a poor gentleman of secondary rank should have come to 
her, while a splendid legation, consisting of the Earls of Glen- 
cairn and Morton, and the Laird of Lethington, had been 
sent to Elizabeth. She saw but too clearly that she was sup- 
planted in the affections of her subjects, and that the Queen 
of England had more influence in Scotland than its rightful 
sovereign. Rumours of her displeasure reached Scotland,, 
and the worst was apprehended. French troops might again 
be landed ; English assistance might not again be obtained ; 
and despotic power might occupy the throne, and force an 
odious religion upon a reluctant people. These fears, how- 

D ever, were quickly dissipated by the death of 

• 4> 15 c Francis II. It was at once seen that this 
event would entirely change the current of State affairs. Mary 
was now a widow. She no longer swayed the French sceptre, 
or had at her command the armies and resources of a king- 
dom more powerful than her own. All this had passed to 
another ; and it was already anticipated that she would soon 
return to her native dominions. 

1 This document is given in the Notes to Dr M 'die's Life of Knox. 

2 First Book of Discipline, chap. xv. 

A.D. 1561. J THE QUEEN'S RETURN. 297 

Early in 1561 two distinguished personages were hurrying 
from Scotland to France by different routes. The one took 
shipping at Aberdeen, and proceeded by sea ; the other 
posted southwards through England, pausing at the Court of 
St James's on his way. Both were Churchmen. The one 
was John Lesley, Official of Aberdeen ; the other was James 
Stewart, Prior of St Andrews. The former was hastening to 
bespeak the favour of his queen for the Catholics ; the latter, 
to entreat his sister to consult her own happiness, and the 
stability of her government, by seeking the support of the 
Protestants. Lesley beat his rival on the road by a day, and 
had the first word with his sovereign. He was kindly re- 
ceived, and advised her to land at Aberdeen and put herself 
at the head of the Catholics of the north, but he does not 
seem to have obtained her confidence. Her brother, though 
he was a bastard, she received with all a sister's openness 
and affection ; and he rewarded her confidence by retail- 
ing their interviews to the English ambassador. Mary was 
willing to forgive her brother all the past ; but she was most 
anxious he should make his peace with Rome. The Guises 
used all their influence to bring this about ; let him only 
return to his ecclesiastical habit, and he might have a cardi- 
nal's hat, abbeys, priories, anything his soul desired. 1 The 
Lord James remained firm — he would not be a renegade — 
and for this we must honour him. However, he was not firm 
for nought \ he had already sought and obtained a pension 
from England, and at this very time we find the English 
ambassador earnestly pressing his claims upon the English 
queen. He soon obtained an earldom \ people whispered he 
sought a crown. 

After some hesitation and delay, the widowed Mary resolved 
to return to her ancestral kingdom. She applied to Elizabeth 
for a safe passport, but it was refused with rage, for she had 
cleverly evaded confirming the Treaty of Edinburgh, in which 
Elizabeth was acknowledged as Queen of England — a thing 
about which she was particularly tender and touchy. The 
Scottish queen was not to be deterred, though she had reason 
to suspect that evil was meditated against her, and embarking 
at Calais on the 14th of August, she gazed at the receding 
shores while she could, but soon lost sight for ever of the joy- 
ous country where she had spent the only period of her life 
destined to be happy. The English cruisers were in the 
1 Tytler's History, vol. vi. Keith, book ii. 


Channel eager to intercept her, but she happily passed them 
in a fog, and arrived at Leith on a dark, stormy morning, five 
days after she had set sail. Her nobility and people received 
her with rude pomp, and conducted her to her Palace of 
Holyroodhouse. In the evening numerous bonfires blazed a 
welcome, and " a company of most honest men, with instru- 
ments of music, gave their salutations at her chamber window/' 1 
Mary was good-natured enough to declare that she was 
delighted with their strains, and bid them come and repeat 
them on the following night; but the celebrated chronicler, 
Brantome, who was one of her company, declares the music 
was abominable, and performed upon wretched fiddles and 

But Sunday came, and on Sunday the queen, like a good 
Catholic, must hear mass ; and to hear mass in Scotland was 
a crime worthy of death. The Master of Lindsay, and some 
of the Fife Reformers, had gathered about the palace. The 
poor man who carried in the candles for the altar trembled in 
every joint when he looked at their threatening aspects. He 
heard them muttering, " the idolatrous priest shall die." The 
chapel would certainly have been invaded, but the Lord James 
had taken up his post at the door, and would allow no one to 
enter. He declared, with much solemnity, that he had placed 
himself there that no Scotchman might pollute his eyes with 
the abominable thing. A strange humour must have flickered 
about his mouth when he said it. The service was performed, 
and no mischief done ; and the officiating priest safely con- 
ducted back to his lodgings between the Abbot of Colding- 
ham and the Abbot of Holyroodhouse, both Protestants, and 
both illegitimate brothers of the queen. 2 But in the afternoon 
the crowd became greater, and a riot was apprehended. In 
these circumstances the Privy Council met, and, as the result 
of their deliberations, a proclamation was published the next 
day at the market-cross, forbidding any one, under pain of 
death, to make "any alteration in the state of religion as it ex- 
isted upon her Majesty's arrival in her dominions, or to 
assault upon any pretence any of her Majesty's attendants, 
either within or without the palace. 3 

This proclamation had two sides — a Protestant and a 
Popish. Many regarded it as a great triumph of Protestant- 
ism, for it was its first regal recognition in the realm ; others 

1 Knox's History, book iv. 9 Ibid. 

3 Keith's History, book iii. chap. ii. 

A.D. 1561. J MARY AND KNOX. 299 

regarded it as a revival of Popery, for it protected the queen's 
Frenchmen and priests in celebrating their masses. When 
the herald had read the proclamation, the Earl of Arran, an 
excitable young man, who had sought the hand of Elizabeth and 
been refused, who had aspired to the heart of Mary with little 
hope of success, and who subsequently went mad, stepped for- 
ward and protested against any protection being given to the 
queen's domestics in their idolatrous worship, as the law of the 
Lord and the law of the land had alike declared it to be 
deserving of death. 1 On the Sunday following Knox took up 
the same theme, and declared from the pulpit that one mass 
was more fearful to him than if ten thousand armed enemies 
were landed in any part of the realm. The courtiers, however, 
only laughed at his alarm, and jeeringly said that it was quite 
beside his text.- In deep dolour Knox wrote to Calvin pour- 
ing into his bosom his griefs and his fears, and asking his 
advice (but it is probable the letter never reached its 

Before Mary had left France she had heard of Knox, and 
feared him, perhaps hated him. 4 Rumours of his sermon now 
reached the palace, and she resolved to send for and try if 
nothing could be made of this wild and outspoken man. The 
long-bearded Reformer came, and was admitted to an audience 
with the queen — a girl of nineteen, already a widow, but one 
of the most beautiful women in Europe. There they stood 
opposite to one another in the ancient halls of Holyrood. 
There were none present to witness what passed but the Lord 
James, and two gentlemen in waiting who remained at the far 
end of the room. The queen began the interview by charging 
Knox with stirring up her subjects against her mother and 
herself; with writing a book against the government of women ; 
and with doing all he did by necromancy. In regard to the 
first charge, Knox protested that he had done nothing more 
than rebuked idolatry, and preached the Word of God in 
sincerity. In regard to the second, he confessed that he 
had written the treatise referred to, and that it contained his 
opinions. "Then," said the queen, " you think that I have 

1 Keith's History, book iii. chap. ii. Knox's History, book iv. 

2 Knox's History, book iv. Thomas Randolph in a letter to Sir Nicolas 
Throckmorton refers to the Mass, the Proclamation, and the Sermon. 
(Eliz. vol. vi. No. 61A). 

3 Teulet, book ii. p. 12. Burton, chap. xli. 

4 Letter in Appendix to Tytler's History, vol. vi. 


no just authority." Knox parried this thrust by stating, that 
philosophers were privileged to entertain speculative opinions 
opposed to the existing order of things, as was Plato when he 
published his " Republic." For himself, he declared that he 
was willing to live as a peaceable subject of her Majesty's 
government, and that his book was provoked by the persecu- 
tions of Mary of England. " But," cried Mary of Scotland, 
" you speak of women in general." The Reformer allowed that 
his argument was general, but urged that, seeing it had not 
caused her Majesty any trouble, and was not likely to do so, 
it was impolitic to stir it at all. Then referring to the charge 
of necromancy, he appealed to all the congregations to whom 
he had preached to refute the charge. " But seeing," he con- 
cluded, " that the wicked of the world said my Master, the 
Lord Jesus, was possessed with Beelzebub, I must patiently 
bear, albeit that I, wretched sinner, am unjustly accused." 
The queen now shifted her ground, and asked if he had not 
taught the people another religion than that of their princes ; 
and " how," said she, "can that doctrine be of God, seeing God 
commandeth subjects to obey their princes." Knox had now 
clearly the truth on his side, and he argued that, as religion 
came not from princes, but from the eternal God, so to God 
only were men answerable for it. He appealed to the Israel- 
ites in Egypt, to Daniel and his fellows in Babylon, to Christ 
and His apostles in the Roman Empire. " Yes," said the 
royal disputant, " but none of these men raised their sword 
against their princes." " God," said the stout Reformer, " had 
not given them the power and the means." "Then, do you 
think," asked the queen, "that subjects having the power may- 
resist their princes ? " "If princes exceed their bounds," said 
the unflinching Knox, and proceeded to illustrate his argument 
by the case of a parent seized with frenzy and bound by his 

At this bold and startling declaration the queen was struck 
dumb. She remained silent, and looked so ill, that her brother 
asked her if anything ailed her. After a little she recovered 
herself and said, "Well, then, I perceive that my subjects will 
obey you and not me." " God forbid," answered the Re- 
former, " that I take upon me to command any to obey me, 
or yet to set subjects at liberty to do whatsoever pleases them, 
but my travail is, that both princes and subjects obey God." 
After this he proceeded to say, that it became kings and 
queens to be nursing fathers and nursing mothers to the 

A.D. 1561.] THE INTERVIEW. 301 

Church. " Yes," quoth the queen, " but ye are not the Church 
that I will nourish. I will defend the Church of Rome, for I 
think it is the true Church of God." "Your will, madam," 
said Knox sternly, " is no reason, neither doth your thought 
make that Roman harlot the immaculate spouse of Jesus 
Christ." When the uncourtly controversialist offered to prove 
that Rome was a harlot, and that the princes of the earth had 
committed fornication with her, the queen quietly said, " My 
conscience says not so." " Conscience, madam," said Knox. 
" requires knowledge, and I fear that of right knowledge you 
have but little." "But," said she, "I have both heard and 
read." " So had the Jews that crucified Christ," retorted the 
preacher. " You interpret the Scriptures in one manner, and 
the Roman clergy in another," said the royal Mary, still pre- 
serving her temper, and resolved not to be beat : " whom shall 
I believe, and who shall be judge ?" Knox replied that the 
Scriptures were their own best interpreters, and that the mass 
had no authority in Scripture at all. " You are over hard for 
me," said the queen," but if they were here whom I have heard, 
they would answer you." Knox declared how it would rejoice 
him to meet in controversy with the ablest Romanists in 
Europe, but that he knew by experience that they avoided all 
arguments but fire and sword. The interview had been long, 
the afternoon was come, dinner was announced, and the queen 
rose to depart. The Reformer appears to have been touched 
with a transient loyalty at leaving, for he said, " I pray God, 
madam, that you may be as blessed within the Commonwealth 
of Scotland as ever Deborah was in the Commonwealth of 
Israel." * 

Very different views have been taken of this interview be- 
tween the gray-headed Reformer and the girlish queen. We 
think it must be allowed by all that very few royal personages 
would have borne so much as Mary did ; and very few men 
would have spoken so roughly in the presence of royalty as 
Knox did. Would the bravest man in England have dared 
so to speak in the presence of Elizabeth ? But, at the same 
time, we think it will be generally conceded that they were 
wholesome truths which the Reformer uttered, however pain- 
ful they may have been to hear. They contain the germs of 
our present political liberty resting on a limited monarchy. 
Knox was not formed by nature to be a courtier, but perhaps 
for that very reason he was better suited to be a religious 
1 Knox's History, book it. 


Reformer. He was another Baptist, more suited to preach 
repentance in the wilderness than to live in kings' houses. 
" I commend better the success of his doings and preachings," 
said Randolph to Cecil, " than the manner thereof." 1 

■ In the beginning of September the queen made her public 
entry into Edinburgh. The magistrates had determined to 
receive her with unusual magnificence ; and we read in the 
Registers of the town council of new bonnets, new coats, 
and new hose — of coifs of black velvet and doublets of 
crimson satin ordered for their attendants, that they might 
join in the triumphal procession with becoming civic 
dignity. Pageants were also prepared in honour of the day, 
cunningly devised to show their Protestantism as well as 
their loyalty. The queen dined in the castle. When she 
came out, on her return to the palace, the first sight that 
met her eyes was a beautiful boy coming out of a round hole 
intended to represent heaven. The cherub presented to 
her Majesty a Bible, a psalter, and the keys of the city, 
and then recited some verses in her praise. Knox, with 
indignation, beheld her handing the Bible to Arthur Erskine, 
whom he denominates the most pestilent Papist in the king- 
dom. Proceeding a little further, she beheld Korah, Dathan, 
and Abiram swallowed up alive for having offered strange 
fire in their censers to the Lord. It was a significant re- 
presentation of the fate of idolaters. But a more significant 
representation still was designed — a priest was to have been 
burned in the act of elevating the Host, but the Earl of 
Huntly had influence enough to prevent it. 2 Having run the 
gauntlet of these edifying spectacles, the queen reached her 
palace. Shall we believe that pleasure or vexation possessed 
her mind ? 

Notwithstanding these demonstrations of Protestant ardour, 
we have many indications that the queen was already soften- 
ing the asperity which many had felt toward her because of 
her religion. The realm had long been without a sovereign, 
and though a few wished it to be without a sovereign still, 
the great majority of the nation were pleased that Holyrood 
was again tenanted. The beauty, the grace, the affable and 
winning manners of Mary, charmed all who were admitted 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 24th October 1561. Given in Keith, book ii. 

chap. ii. 

2 Randolph to Cecil, 7th September 1 561. Given in Keith, book ii, 
chap. ii. ; Knox's History, book iv. 

A.D. 1501. J COURT HOLY WATER. 3°3 

into her presence. Furious Protestants felt their reforming 
zeal thawing rapidly under her smiles. As the Lords of the 
Congregation presented themselves one after another at 
court, they were at first inclined to fret because of the mass, 
but their indignation quickly subsided, and they became 
inclined to concede toleration to their queen. Lord Ochiltree 
had been long of making his appearance, but when at last he 
came, Campbell of Kinzeancleuch ventured to say to him : 
" My lord, now you are come, and almost the last of all the 
rest ; and I perceive by your anger that the fire edge is not 
off you yet ; but I fear that after the holy water of the court 
is sprinkled upon you, that you shall become as temperate as 
the rest ; for I have been here now five days, and at the first 
I heard very many say, ' Let us hang the priest ; ' but after 
they had been twice or thrice in the abbey, all that fervency 
past. I think there is some enchantment by which men are 
bewitched." l 

Within two months after her arrival, Mary felt herself 
strong enough to take a step in defence of her fellow- 
religionists. The magistrates of Edinburgh had published 
a proclamation commanding all priests, monks, friars, nuns, 
adulterers, fornicators, and other such filthy persons, to 
leave the city within eighteen hours, under pain of being 
publicly carted through the town and burned upon the cheek. 
The queen instantly issued a counter-proclamation, com- 
manding the town council to meet and deprive the provost 
and bailies of their offices as the punishment of their pre- 
sumption, and elect others in their room. The council 
succumbed, and did as they were ordered. "And so," 
writes Knox, " murderers, adulterers, thieves, whores, drun- 
kards, idolaters, and all malefactors, got protection under the 
queen's wings." 2 

When things were in this state a General 
Dec. 1561. Assembly of the Church was held. It was 
observed that the Protestant barons who had been sprinkled 
with the holy water of the court absented themselves. As 
important measures were contemplated, a committee was 
appointed to confer with them and effect a reconciliation. 
The nobles complained that the ministers had done things 
in secret without their knowledge. Angry words were ex- 
changed, and Lethington went so far as to challenge the 

1 Knox's History, book iv. 

1 Keith's History, book ii. chap. ii. Knox's History, book iv. 


right of the Assembly to meet without the sanction of the 
queen. "Take from us the freedom of assemblies," said 
Knox, "and take from us the gospel." The dispute was 
settled upon the understanding that the queen might send 
any one to the Assembly to hear what questions were dis- 
cussed — the first step toward the appointment of a royal 
commissioner. An effort was now made to get her Majesty 
to ratify the " Book of Discipline." When the number of her 
council who had signed it was quoted — " How many of those 
who subscribed that book will be subject to it?" said a 
courtier? "All the godly," said a preacher. "Will the 
duke ? " said Lethington. " If he will not," answered Lord 
Ochiltree, " I would that he were scraped out, not only of 
that book, but also out of our number and company." "Many 
subscribe there," retorted Lethington, " in fide parentum, as 
children are baptised." "Albeit you think that scoff proper," 
said John Knox fiercely; "yet as it is most untrue, so it is 
improper : that book was read in public audience on divers 
days, so that no man was required to subscribe what he 
understood not." "Stand content," said the baron; "that 
book will not be obtained." "Let God," replied the preacher, 
" require the lack and want which this poor commonwealth 
shall have of the things therein contained from the hands of 
such as stop the same." 1 It was the disposal of the ecclesias- 
tical temporalities, provided for in the " Book of Discipline," 
which mainly stood in the way of its ratification. ' ,;^;. .. fer^J 
But it was evident that something must be done to keep 
the Protestant preachers from positive starvation. Hitherto 
they had depended almost entirely upon the benevolence of 
their congregations ; many of them were in abject poverty ; 
and they were clamorous against the government, as hungry 
men always are. Meanwhile the rich benefices of the Church 
were still held by the Romish ecclesiastics, or enjoyed by 
the nobles who had violently seized upon them. In these 
circumstances, the Privy Council conceived the idea of 
allowing the old clergy to retain two-thirds of their bene- 
fices during their life-time, and of appropriating the remain- 
ing third partly for the ministry and partly for the crown. 
An order was therefore issued, requiring all the beneficed 
clergy in the kingdom to produce their rent-rolls, that the 
value of the ecclesiastical property might thus be ascer- 
tained ; and the superintendents were at the same time re- 
1 Knox's History, book iv. 

A.D. 1661.] THE THIRDS. 305 

quired to make up lists of the ministers, exhorters, and 
readers of the Protestant Church, that calculations might 
be made as to how much would be required for their support. 1 

They were Protestant nobles who sat in council when this 
scheme was devised, most of them the men who had been the 
Lords of the Congregation. Their legislation when in power 
was certainly different from their sentiments when in opposi- 
tion. Their scheme appears marvellous for two reasons — 
their own entire disinterestedness, and their great generosity 
to the Romish clergy. They are silent in regard to their own 
claims : they are careful of the rights of the ousted ecclesi- 
astics. It was certainly but just that these, though now 
prevented from executing their functions, should have a pro- 
portion of their ancient property, and it would have been a 
sin and a shame to have thrown them as beggars on the 
world ; but it was scarcely to be expected that such an appre- 
ciation of " the just " should have been found in such men and 
in such an age. It was seldom then that the vanquished were 
spared. Courtly and Catholic influences had probably some- 
thing to do with the arrangements ; but it will shortly be seen 
that the nobles, by being generous to the priesthood, were 
enabled to be generous to themselves. The Archbishop of 
St Andrews, and the Bishops of Moray, Ross, and Dunkeld, 
were present, and gave their consent when the resolution was 
formed; and when they were taking their leave, the Earl of 
Huntly jocosely said to them, " Good-morrow, my lords of the 
two parts." 2 

Knox disliked the scheme from the first, and spoke vehe- 
mently against it. " Well/' said he, " if the end of this order, 
pretended to be taken for the sustentation of the ministry, be 
happy, my judgment fails me ; for first I see two parts freely 
given to the devil, and the third must be divided between God 
and the devil." He prophesied that it would be seen that the 
devil would get three parts of the third, and then, cried he. 
" you may judge what God's portion will be." The courtiers, 
on the other hand, accused the clergy of greed ; and the sec- 
retary Lethington, in his sneering way, said, that if the minis- 
ters got their will, " the queen would not have enough to buy 
herself a pair of new shoes." 3 

When the rent-rolls of all the clergy had been produced, as 
they were after considerable hesitation and delay, it was found 

1 Knox's History, Keith's History, &c, &c. 

- Knox's History, book iv. c Ibid. 



that the thirds of all the benefices in the kingdom amounted 
to ^7 2,49 1. 1 This was a large sum, and might have gone a 
long way in maintaining an established church. The next 
step to be taken was to modify stipends to the several super- 
intendents, ministers, exhorters, and readers. The Earls of 
Argyll and Morton, the Lord James, now Earl of Moray, the 
Laird of Lethington, the Justice-Clerk, and the Clerk-Register, 
were appointed for the purpose, and the Laird of Pitarrow was 
appointed their comptroller. The preachers could not have 
desired a better commission : they were all Protestants. 
Nevertheless they proved parsimonious, and out of the 
^72,491 assigned only ^24,2312 to the Reformed Church. 
The Revenue of the Romish Church must have amounted to 
upwards of ^25o,ooo. 3 " Who would have thought," says 
Knox, " that when Joseph ruled Egypt, his brethren should 
have travelled for victuals, and have returned with empty 
sacks?" 4 The modificators appear to have been resolved 
that the new race of ecclesiastics should not wax wanton 
through too much affluence, and so they assigned to them 
stipends ranging from 100 to 300 merks. 5 The ministers 
cried out against their stinted stipends, which, small as they 
were, were but ill paid ; and in many cases they must have 
been absolutely in want. " The Laird of Pitarrow/' says Knox, 
" was an earnest professor ; but the great devil receive the 

1 Several small benefices were at first omitted, and which, when after- 
wards added, increased this by ^1389, 10s. 

2 Appendix to Keith's History. Besides this sum, there was also a 
small allowance to Knox and the superintendents. Keith has, with great 
industry, collected the revenues of our ancient bishoprics and religious 

3 I make up this sum by multiplying ^72, 49 1+^1389 by 3, and then 
making some allowance for the under-valuation put upon their revenues by 
the Romish ecclesiastics. The valuation was notoriously too low. 

4 History, book iv. 

5 Considerable misapprehension exists in regard to the stipends of the 
first Protestant ministers in our country, and many imagine them to have 
been much lower than they really were. The money referred to is Scotch 
money, £1 Scotch is equal only to is. 8d. sterling; and as the merk is 
two-thirds of a pound, its proportionate value is only is. i^d. Hence 100 
merks amount to ^5, us. ijd., 300to^i6, 13s. 4d. sterling. From this it 
might be concluded, and has been concluded, that the stipends of the Scot- 
tish clergy vibrated between these two sums. But it must be taken into 
account that the £1 Scotch at that time was at least as valuable as the 
£1 sterling now, as it would buy as much, if not more; and therefore, 
again, taking the merk as two-thirds of a pound, we shall state the case 
more truly if we say that the stipends varied from ^70 to ^200. The 


comptroller." The grumbling of the clergy did little good. 
They were simply told they must rest satisfied, that many 
lairds had not so much, and that the queen could not spare 
more. " Oh happy servants of the devil/' said our Reformer, 
with keen irony, "and miserable servants of Jesus Christ, if 
after this life there were no heaven and no hell ; for to the 
servants of the devil, these dumb dogs and horrid bishops, to 
one of these idle bellies ten thousand was not enough ; but to 
the servants of Christ, that painfully preach the gospel, a 
hundred will suffice.'' 

When the stipends of the ministers were paid, there still 
remained upwards of ^48,000, which, according to the scheme 
of the Council, ought to have been annexed to the Crown, to 
maintain its splendour. Royalty in Scotland for long had 
possessed but small revenues, and it must be acknowledged 
that it had some claims upon the ecclesiastical property of the 
country, as it had come to poverty by the ancient alienation 
of its demesnes to the Church. But royalty was in reality 
little enriched. We find, indeed, in the accounts, ^9000 
expended upon the queen's body-guard, ^303 in the purchase 
of their uniforms, and ^75 paid to David Rizzio, valet of the 
chamber. The remanent thousands were swallowed up other- 
wise. There were numerous pensions to courtiers and their 
kin. There were numerous remittances of the thirds. The 

average price of grain, as we learn from the Book of Assignations and the 
Book of Assumptions, appears to have been about 20 merks per chalder ; 
so that, converting the money into victual, we might say that the stipends 
ranged from five to fifteen chalders. 

If we compare these stipends with the value of many of the ancient bene- 
fices, we shall find them higher rather than lower. In 156 1 the rectory 
of Kilmaronock was let for 100 merks (Book of Assumptions). The bene- 
fice of Eddleston was rated at ^133, 6s. 8d. (Libellus Taxationum). 
Newlands was let for 200 merks (Book of Assumptions). The parsonage 
of Buchanan was valued at ,£40. Tbe vicarage of Bonhill was under £7. 
The parsonage and vicarage of Killearn were set together in 1561 for 160 
merks. The rectory of Carmunnock amounted to ^"20, the vicarage to 
£6, 13s. 4d. The rectory and vicarage of Neilston were let at the time of 
the Reformation for £66, 13s. 4c!., &c. These are taken at random, and 
form a sample of the whole. With these the stipends of the Protestant 
clergy will stand a comparison, as we find them stated in the ''Register 
of Ministers and their Stipend sen the year 1567." The minister of Ratho 
has ;£ioo, St Cuthbert's £200, Perth £200 and a chalder of oats, Glas- 
gow £240, Kinfauns ico merks, Kilgour 40 merks. The reader at Comrie 
has 20 merks, at Cargill £20, at Arngask £16, &c. The Register of 
Ministers and Readers in 1574, published in the Miscellany of the \Vodrow 
Society, shows similar results. 


Earl of Moray drew the large revenues of the Priories of St 
Andrews and Pittenweem without deduction. Many others 
did the like. The Earl of Argyll, the Lord Erskine, and a 
host of others, divided the spoil, and little was left to the 
queen herself. There are two entries in the accounts which 
we read with sympathy. The one is ;£ioi8 given to a multi- 
tude of houseless monks, and the other is ^754, 3s. nd. 
given to a number of enfranchised nuns. 1 Shall we blame 
the charity which helped them in their distress ? 

Before leaving this subject it will be well to trace the 
fortunes of the property which still remained in the hands of 
the beneficed clergy. We have already had some indications 
of the course it was to take. We have quoted Acts of 
Assembly and Acts of Council, levelled at Churchmen feuing 
their manses, lands, and tithes. Here was the device. When 
the Romish clergy saw that all chance of preserving the 
Church was gone, they began to give feus and long leases of 
their property to their relatives and friends among the nobility 
and gentry ; and these gladly accepted, if indeed they had not 
arranged, the advantageous offers thus made to them, hoping 
they would have sufficient influence to get them afterwards 
confirmed, and made perpetual in their families. To ease the 
consciences of the Roman donors, perhaps also to ease the 
consciences of the Protestant receivers, and to give an appear- 
ance of validity to the transactions, the confirmation of the 
Pope was asked ; and, in a multitude of cases, the confirma- 
tion of the Pope was obtained. A bribe silenced all scruples. 
When Churchmen were unwilling thus to alienate the Church's 
patrimony, fraud or force was sometimes employed to secure 
compliance. The Earl of Cassillis had cast covetous eyes 
upon the Abbacy of Glenluce, and was in treaty with the 
abbot for its feu ; but before the bargain was concluded the 
abbot died. The Earl was not to be baulked ; and therefore 
he bribed a monk to forge the necessary documents ; and 
then he employed a retainer to stab the monk, lest he should 
reveal the forgery ; and, last of all, he made his uncle hang 
the retainer, lest he should let out the murder. The same 
nobleman had farther desired the Abbacy of Crossraguel, and, 
shortly after the Reformation, had got a feu of it from the 
abbot. But this abbot died, and another was appointed ; and 
as the earl's feu had not received the royal confirmation, the 
new abbot held it as null. The earl decoyed him to his 

1 Keith's History, Appendix. 

a.d. 1560-70. J LORDS OF ERECTION. 309 

castle of Dunmure, and roasted him over a slow fire, till, in 
the extremity of his torture, he consented to sign papers rati- 
fying the earl's rights, with a hand ill able to hold the pen. 
The abbot afterwards brought his complaint before the 
Council • but Cassillis was too powerful to be punished ; and 
peace was ultimately made by a small pension paid by the 
tormentor to his victim, whom he had rendered decrepit for life. 1 

When a member of the hierarchy died, the office was not 
allowed to remain vacant. A successor was generally ap- 
pointed, not indeed to discharge the functions, but to draw the 
revenues of the place. The Church had long ago given the 
hint of this by the appointment of commendators. These new 
bishops and abbots were generally Protestants, frequently lay- 
men, sometimes boys. They were appointed for a purpose ; 
and the terms of their appointment sometimes indicated what 
the purpose was. On the death of Bishop Sinclair, a young 
lad, named Alexander Campbell, of the family of Ardkinlas, 
was presented to the Bishopric of Brechin, and his presenta- 
tion expressly gave him power " to dispone and alienate the 
benefices, as well of the spirituality as temporality of the 
bishoprick." The youth availed himself of his power, and 
alienated a great part of the lands and tithes of his See to his 
patron, the Earl of Argyll, who had probably obtained the 
grant for him, and was thus repaid for his services. 2 It is 
remarkable that men should have preferred these flimsy pre- 
texts of law to open robbery. It was esteemed the more 
decent way to get possession of the Church's property — it had 
the colour of right. 

But in other cases the Church's lands and revenues passed 
into lay hands by a more direct road. A large proportion of 
the dignified clergy, especially of the abbots and priors, joined 
the Reformers; and when the Reformation was completed, 
some of these were rewarded by getting their abbacies erected 
into temporal lordships. The holy fathers were now free to 
marry ; and the property which they originally held only for 
life became perpetual in their families, free from the burden of 
discharging monastic duties, and feeding monks who did 
nothing but eat. 3 In instances still more numerous, abbacies 

1 Historical and Genealogical Account of the Principal Families of the 
name of Kennedy, from an Original MS., Bannatyne Club. 

- Keith's History, book ii. 

:; It was seriously contemplated, at one time, to make the holders of 
abbacies pay to the crown a sum equal to what would have been re- 


were bestowed upon favourite courtiers or powerful barons ; 
the lands frequently carried a title of nobility along with them; 
the new possessor was a lord of parliament, and enjoyed all 
the honours, privileges, and powers which his monkish ances- 
tors had enjoyed before him. Under these different dis- 
solving processes, the patrimony of the Church gradually 
melted away • and the Protestant clergy were too helpless to 
come in for any considerable share when they divided the spoil 
with the strong. 

The majority of the superior clergy of the Roman communion 
lost but little by the Reformation. Many gained prodigiously. 
They all had the two-thirds of their benefices secured to them ; 
they increased these by their feus ; and many had lands and 
tithes, which were theirs only for life, bestowed upon them- 
selves and their heirs for ever. But it was very different with 
the inferior clergy. As a general rule they were reduced to 
absolute beggary. An act of the first Assembly provides that 
they should receive alms like other poor, if their conversation 
was honest. The queen, with true kind-heartedness, bestows 
nearly ^2000 out of her proportion of the thirds upon desti- 
tute monks and nuns. In the " Book of Assumptions " we 
find frequent references to small sums retained for the helpless, 
houseless wretches, now they were turned adrift. In the Cis- 
tercian Abbey of Melrose, eleven monks and three portioners 
have twenty merks, and a small quantity of victual assigned 
to each of them. In the Cistercian Nunnery of North Berwick, 
eleven nuns are pensioned with ^20 each. In the Abbey of 
Newbattle, six aged and decrepit monks, who had recanted, 
are liberally pensioned with ^240. In the monastery of Cul- 
ross, of nine monks, five embraced reform, and had an allow- 
ance granted to them, but the other four would not listen to 
reason, and so they were left to starve. Many of the clergy 

quired for the sustenance of the usual number of monks. " Before this 
tyme a litill, thair was a plat devysit for the benefite of the prence, as was 
pretendit; to wit, that as in all abbacies thair was a number of monks that 
was sustenit upon thair awin severall portions, that prejugeit not the 
abbot's rent ; and that the abbot, after the death of ilk monk, had appro- 
priate the portion to his awin behuvc, whereas, be the first institution, 
still another sould have bene surrogat to the place ; tharefore it was devy- 
sit to call in all abbots and uthers prelates that war presidents of con- 
vents to a compt, to caus thayme to bestow upon the king, for all tyme 
bygane, the portions of the monks departit before that day, and siclyke 
for all tyme cuming." (Historie of King James Sext, p. 233, Ban. Ed.) 

A.D. 1560-70.] ASSEMBLY BUSINESS. 31 I 

thus reduced to want became proselytes for a morsel of bread, 
and received employment in the Protestant Church. 1 

Meanwhile the Reformation was making rapid progress 
toward the occupation of the land. We can distinctly trace 
its history in the records of the Assemblies. Yet it were a 
waste of time, and an abuse of patience, to go over the pro- 
ceedings of Assembly after Assembly; and the purpose of our 
history will better be served by giving a general view of the 
business which came under the notice of these venerable 
courts, and of the manner in which it was transacted. Every 
Protestant nobleman would seem to have been invited to sit 
in the first Assemblies, and many of these were generally pre- 
sent, as the sederunts show. In 1567 we find missives directed 
to a large number of lords, barons, and other brethren, requir- 
ing them to compear at an Assembly, which is described in 
the body of the missive as a General Assembly of the whole 
professors of all estates and degrees within the Kirk of Scot- 
land. 2 In the very next year, however, we find it resolved, 
that none should have place or power to vote in the Assembly 
except superintendents, commissioners appointed for visiting 
kirks, ministers brought with them, and presented as able to rea- 
son and judge, commissioners of burghs and shires, together with 
the commissioners of universities. The Assembly at this period 
met twice in the year, in June and December, and in Decem- 
ber it generally began its sittings upon the 25th, to show its 
contempt for the Romish festival of Christmas. At first no 
Moderator was chosen, so primitive was the manner in which 
business was done, but in the sixth General Assembly John 
Willock was chosen to this honour, to prevent confusion in the 
debates. 3 

Much time in all the first Assemblies was occupied in the 
appointment of ministers, exhorters, and readers \ and it is 
amazing how rapidly the vacant parishes were supplied. In 
several cases we have modest men declaring themselves unfit 
for the office of the ministry, but compelled to take it under 

1 The superintendent of Angus and Mearns was accused of having ad- 
mitted many immoral and ignorant Popish priests as readers. (Records of 
Assembly. ) 

2 This was the Assembly held at the time when Mary was in the hands 
of the lords who had risen against the government, and when they were 
yet unresolved what to do. A large attendance of noblemen was desired, 
that the affairs of the kingdom, as well as of the Church, might be decided 
in the Assembly. (Keith's Hist, book iii. ) 

3 Book of the Universal Kirk, p. 17. 


the pain of the censures of the Church. In other cases we 
have presumptuous men removed from offices which they had 
taken upon themselves. In every Assembly, ministers, 
exhorters, and readers joined in complaints that their stipends 
were small and irregularly paid, and in some instances they 
excused themselves for not having done the work which was 
imposed upon them from their inability to bear the expense it 
would have entailed. 1 These complaints were generally fol- 
lowed by resolutions to petition the Secret Council, to prevent 
the further alienation of the Church's lands. But one of the 
most characteristic features of these Assemblies was delating 
the superintendents. These dignified Fresbyterian Churchmen 
were removed from the house one after another, and the clergy 
of their diocese invited to make complaints against them, and 
there appears to have been no disinclination to do so. The 
superintendent of Fife was blamed for being too much given 
to worldly affairs, slack in preaching, rash in excommunicating, 
sharper than became him in exacting payment of small tithes. 
The superintendent of Angus was accused of having admitted 
too many illiterate and immoral Popish priests to be readers 
in his diocese, of having rashly admitted some young men to 
the ministry without the forms prescribed in the " Book of 
Discipline;" of having chosen gentlemen of vicious lives to 
be elders ; of tolerating ministers who did not visit the sick, 
nor instruct the youth ; and who on the Sundays came to their 
churches long after the hour, and departed again the moment 
the sermon was done. 2 The superintendent of the West was 
charged with being slack in the extirpation of idolatry; but he 
pleaded that he was hindered in the good work by the Duke 
and the Earl of Cassillis. 3 When the superintendents had 
one by one passed through this fiery ordeal, the ministers 
required to walk over the same course ; and as it had been 
the duty of the ministers to rake up everything they could 
against the superintendents, so now it was the privilege of the 
superintendents to mete out to them the same measure they 
had meted to others. 

The other business of these Assemblies was very miscel- 
laneous. The sacraments were ordered to be administered 

1 The universal complaint, we are told, was, that kirks lacked minis- 
ters, and ministers lacked stipends. (Assembly vi. Keith, book iii. 
chap, iii.) 

2 Fifth General Assembly. Keith, book iii. chap. iii. 

s Seventh General Assembly. Keith, book iii. chap. iii. 

A.D. 1560-70.] RUINS OF ROMISH CHURCH. 313 

according to the forms of the Book of Geneva. 1 Every 
minister was ordered to furnish himself with a copy of the 
Psalm-Book, which had just been printed with the Order of 
Geneva attached to it. 2 The minister of Galston complained 
that his wife had abandoned him and fled to England, where- 
upon letters were directed to the Archbishops of Canterbury 
and York, requesting edicts to be proclaimed or citations 
executed against the fugitive lady. 3 Four women were 
accused of witchcraft, and were handed over to the Privy 
Council. 4 John Knox asks leave to go to England to visit 
his children, and is furnished with letters of commendation. 5 
The confession of the Helvetian churches is approved of, with 
the exception of the appointment of festival days. 6 Com- 
plaints are made against the Archbishop of St Andrews being 
again invested with his ancient jurisdiction in testamentary 
and other matters. A letter is written to the bishops and 
clergy of England, begging them in the bowels of Jesus 
Christ to bear with those of their brethren whose consciences 
would not allow them to wear any religious apparel, seeing 
that surplices, cornets, capes, and tippets were but vain 

While the Assemblies were thus legislating, complaining, 
petitioning, and writing pastoral epistles, the public mind 
was in a state of tremulous excitement. There were still 
abundant sources of irritation. The ancient Church was not 
clean swept away. It stood like the bare and blackened walls 
of a building which had been gutted by fire. Romish ecclesi- 
astics lived in the manses, cultivated the glebes, lifted the 
tithes, sat in the senate, presided on the bench. s Protestant 
preachers occupied the churches, expounded the Scriptures, 
and dispensed the sacraments to the people. The rapidity 
with which the Catholic worship had been overthrown was 
marvellous, but we must not imagine that the overthrow was 
complete. The mass was still celebrated in many parish 
churches, and where it could not be celebrated openly in the 

1 Fourth General Assembly. Book of the Universal Kirk, p. 13. Keith 
places this act in the Fifth Assembly. 

- Ninth Gen. Assembly. Keith. 3 Seventh Gen. Assembly. Keith. 

4 Seventh Gen. Assembly. Keith. 5 Thirteenth Gen. Assembly. Keith. 

fi Twelfth Gen. Assembly. Keith. 7 Thirteenth Gen. Assembly. Keith. 

8 "For sa muckle as it was heavilie lamentit be the maist part of the 
ministers that they can have no dwelling-places at their kirks because the 
manses ar either deteinit be the parsons or vicars of the samen, or else sett 
in feu or utherwayes to gentlemen." (General Assembly, iv. sess. 5. Book 
of the Universal Kirk, p. 13.) 


churches, it was performed privately in gentlemen's houses. 
Large districts were still attached to the ancient forms. When 
Protestant ministers made their appearance at Paisley, Aber- 
deen, Curry, Duplin, Aberdalgie, they found the doors of the 
churches barred against them. 1 Quentin Kennedy, Abbot of 
Crossraguel, and Ninian Wingate, schoolmaster of Linlithgow, 
threw down the gauntlet, and challenged Knox to discussion. 2 
The people nowhere could shake off their early prejudices, 
and, notwithstanding their Protestantism, persisted in going on 
pilgrimage to chapels and wells, and keeping wakes for the 
dead. 3 When such strong counter-currents meet, a violent 
commotion is the necessary result. Society in Scotland was 
in as troubled a state as it well could be. The agitation was 
increased by political events, to which we must now refer. 

Since her first arrival in the kingdom, the young queen had 
thrown herself entirely upon the friendship and support of her 
Protestant subjects. Maitland of Lethington was made her 
secretary. Her principal advisers were Reformers. Her 
brother the Lord James was constantly at her side, and in fact 
held in his hand the sceptre, while she was content to wear 
the crown. He was created Earl of Mar, and afterwards 
Earl of Moray, an honour which he had long coveted. Her 
face was turned away from her fellow-religionists, though she 
must in her heart have sympathised with them. The potent 
Earl [of Huntly, still a Catholic, was treated coldly, driven 
into rebellion, defeated, and slain. His second son died on 
the scaffold, and his immense estates were forfeited. But as 
the queen still continued a Romanist herself, and insisted 
upon the private use of the mass, she was suspected and dis- 
liked by the more vehement Reformers. Nothing but the 
unconditional surrender of her religion would satisfy them. 
The queen, moreover, was fond of gaiety — the dance and the 

1 In the Ninth General Assembly the Church "requyres punishment of 
sick as hes steikit the doores of the paroch kirks, and will not opin the 
samen to preachers that have presentit themselves to preach the Word, 
sick as Paisley, Aberdeen, Curry, Duplin, and Aberdalgie." See also 
Lee's Paisley Abbey. 

2 " Ane Compendius Tractive," published by Kennedy in 1558, is re- 
printed in the Wodrow Miscellany, with Davidson's answer to it. 
Wingate's Controversial Tracts are to be found in the Appendix to Keith. 
They have also been published, with a prefatory notice, by the Maitland 
Club. Wingate was glad to flee to the Continent, where he became 
abbot of a Scotch monastery at Ratisbone. 

3 We have Acts of Assembly against these practices. 

A.D. 1562.] DANCING AT HOLYROOD. 3 1 5 

song, to which she had been accustomed in joyous France. 
The preachers were scandalised at this, and it must be con- 
fessed that many of the dances of that day were grossly in- 
decent, and in some respects as lewdly suggestive as the 
modern Parisian quadrilles. But a dance might be indicative 
of political triumph as well as of libidinous desire. News had 
arrived that peace had been restored to France \ and, con- 
joined with this, there were rumours that the Guises were 
about to commence a persecution of the Huguenots. About 
the same time a ball was given at Holyrood, and the dancing 
was kept up with great spirit till after midnight. Knox heard 
of this, and on the following Sunday he chose for his text, 
" Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings \ be instructed, ye judges 
of the earth," and from these words declaimed against perse- 
cuting and dancing princes. 1 

Some of the queen's attendants reported this to her Majesty, 
and Knox was summoned into her presence. The Reformer 
told the queen that it had been better she had come and 
heard the sermon herself than have listened to distorted reports 
of it from others. "I doubt not," said he, "but that it came 
to the ears of Herod that our Master Jesus Christ called him 
a fox ; but they told him not how odious a thing it was before 
God to murder an innocent, as he had lately done before, 
causing to behead John the Baptist, to reward the dancing of 
a harlot's daughter." He then proceeded to state what he had 
really said in his sermon. He had declared " that violence 
and oppression occupied the throne of God upon earth ; that 
murderers and bloodthirsty men presented themselves before 
kings and princes, while the poor saints were exiled ; that 
princes were more exercised in fiddling and flinging, than in 
reading and hearing God's most blessed Word ; and that 
fiddlers and flatterers were more precious in their eyes than 
men of wisdom and gravity. As for dancing," he remarked, 
" though he found it nowhere praised in God's Word, and 
though he thought it fitter for the mad than the sane, yet he 
did not utterly condemn it if it did not interfere with more 
serious concerns, and if it were not used to triumph over 
God's people. " This was bad enough, but it would appear 
that the reports were worse. The queen said so, and told 
the stern censor, that if at any time he had any fault to find 
with her, she would much rather he would come and tell it to 

1 Randolph wrote to Kyllygrew regarding the court ladies that they 
were merry, lopping, dancing, lusty, and fair. (Eliz., vol. vii. No. 93 a). 


herself. This was kindly said, and no doubt kindly meant ; 
but Knox rudely answered that he had something else to do 
" than come and wait at her chamber door, and whisper in 
her Majesty's ear." The queen turned her back upon him. As 
he left the palace, men were watching the expression of his 
countenance, and he overheard one whisper, " He is not 
afraid." " Why should the pleasant face of a lady affray me ? " 
said the unmoved man. " I have looked in the faces of many 
angry men, and have not been afraid above measure." x 

It is from Knox himself we get the account of these scenes 
at the palace, and it is probable he makes himself ruder in 
writing than he actually was in the royal presence. Of his 
outspokenness there can be no doubt. But there was need 
for it, and all the more because Mary was a beautiful woman. 
If he spoke sharply, he did not give way to mere random in- 
vective : he knew what he was saying. He had penetrated as 
deeply into the political designs of the day as any man living, 
and had probably sources of information through the French 
Huguenots. The State papers, which were then seen by only 
a few eyes, but which are now published to the world, make it 
plain that this woman, able as she was beautiful, was bent 
upon the restoration of the Catholic religion, and that she 
was plotting not only with her cousins of Guise, but with a 
more dangerous and formidable man, Philip of Spain, the 
greatest bigot and bloodiest persecutor of the time. 

There were penal statutes against the mass, but they had 
seldom been put into execution. Perhaps the queen denied 
their validity, as she had never ratified the proceedings of the 
parliament which passed them ; perhaps she felt it would be 
indecent for her to punish others for what she did herself. 
But the more vehement Reformers were resolved that these 
sanguinary laws should not lie idle in the statute-book, and 
therefore the westland gentlemen, in their char- 
ay ^ 3 ' acter of magistrates, laid hold of some of the 
perverse priests, and warned others, especially the Abbot of 
Crossraguel and the parson of Sanquhar, that they would do 
well to desist from saying mass. The queen was then at 
Lochleven, enjoying herself amid its pleasant scenery, and 
little dreaming it was soon to be her prison, when intelligence 
of this reached her. Knowing the influence of Knox with his 
party, she resolved to send for him, and try the influence of 
persuasion. Knox came, and was admitted to an audience. 
1 Knox's History, book iv. 

A.D. 1563.] THE SWORD OF JUSTICE. 3 I 7 

The queen complained that her subjects had taken the law 
into their own hand, and that it was hard that men should be 
punished for worshipping their God according to their con- 
science. " The sword of justice, madam, is God's," said the 
Reformer, " and is given to princes and rulers for one end, 
which, if they transgress, sparing the wicked and oppressing 
the innocent, they that in the fear of God execute judgment 
where God hath commanded offend not God ; neither yet sin 
they that bridle kings from striking innocent men in their 
rage. The examples are evident, for Samuel spared not to 
slay Agag, the fat and delicate King of Amalek, whom King 
Saul had saved ; neither spared Elias Jezebel's false prophets 
and Baal's priests, albeit King Ahab was present ; Phinehas 
was no magistrate, and yet feared he not to strike Zimri and 
Cosbi in the very act of filthy fornication. And so, madam, 
you Majesty may see that others than chief magistrates may 
lawfully punish, and have punished the vices and crimes 
which God commands to be punished ; for power by act of 
parliament is given to all judges to search the mass-mongers, 
or hearers of the same, and to punish them according to the 
law." 1 Knox may have been right in holding that magistrates 
were entitled to put existing laws into execution ; but he was 
plainly wrong in the applicability of the Old Testament ex- 
amples which he cited, or every bigot would be entitled to 
commit murder when he pleased, and then quote the examples 
of Samuel, Elijah, and Phinehas. The queen bore with 
him with wonderful patience, continued the conversation for 
two hours, and only broke it off when supper-time had come. 
Knox left her presence to go and repeat all that had passed to 
the Earl of Moray. 

Before sunrise the next morning, Knox was again summoned 
to wait upon her Majesty. She had gone out to enjoy a 
day's hawking, and Knox came up with her in the fields near 
Kinross. She received him with the greatest kindness and 
condescension ; told him of a little love affair between Lord 
Ruthven and herself; warned him against the Bishop of Gal- 
loway, whom she knew to be a dangerous man ; confided to 
him some domestic differences between the Earl and Countess 
of Argyll, and begged his good offices to effect a reconcilia- 
tion ; and finally, before parting, said to him, with reference 
to their interview on the previous evening, that she would 
cause all offenders against the laws to be summoned, and see 
justice done. She kept her word : so soon as she returned to 
1 Knox's History, book iv. 


Edinburgh, the Archbishop of St Andrews, the Prior of Whit- 
horn, and several others, were brought before the Council, 
and committed to custody. Was not this enough to make 
Knox relent ? But he did not. Mary was a Papist, and a 
Papist was an abomination in his sight. 

On the 4th of June 1563 the parliament as- 
j une 4, 1563. sembled# The queen rode j n state t0 the Tol _ 

booth, and delivered the opening address, surrounded by a 
crowd of ladies, whom French milliners had made more than 
usually gay. " Such stinking pride of women," says Knox, 
" as was seen at that parliament, was never seen before in 
Scotland." But there were others felt differently, and while 
the queen spoke, there were heard whispers among the audi- 
ence — "God save that sweet face; was there ever orator 
spake so properly and so sweetly?" 1 The more vehement of 
the Reformers wished to obtain in this parliament a ratifica- 
tion of the treaty of Leith ; but Moray and Lethington, know- 
ing the queen's aversion to this, had resolved to content 
themselves with an act of indemnity. Knox and Moray had 
a violent altercation on the subject, which ended in a quarrel, 
and for eighteen months the two chiefs of the Reformation 
scarcely exchanged words. The act of indemnity was 
passed; and to conciliate the clergy, acts were also passed 
to punish adulterers and witches with death ; to repair the 
parish churches ; to prevent the letting of manses and glebes 
by the Romish occupants, and ultimately secure them to the 
Protestant ministry. The preachers were clamorous for a 
law against the superfluity of female attire, which they affirmed 
was sure to bring God's vengeance not only upon the foolish 
women themselves, but upon the whole kingdom ; 2 but the 
love neither of religion nor economy could induce the lords 
to intermeddle with the ruffs and farthingales of their ladies. 

If the press be a fourth estate of the realm now, the pulpit 
arrogated this honour and authority to itself at the time of the 
Reformation. While the parliament was sitting, St Gile's was 
crowded with courtiers and legislators. Undivided by parti- 
tions, and unencumbered with galleries, it then opened up its 
long nave and aisles to the echoing voice of the preacher. 
John Knox, mounting the pulpit, believed himself in the 
place "where God required him to speak the truth, and there- 
fore speak it he would, impugn it whoso listed." He drew a 
picture of the dangers through which the nation had passed ; 
of the struggle the Reformers had endured. " In your most 

1 Knox's History, book iv. 2 Ibid. 


extreme danger," he exclaimed, " I have been with you ; St 
Johnstone, Cupar-moor, and the charges of Edinburgh are yet 
recent in my heart; yea, that dark and dolorous night 
wherein all you, my Lords, with shame and fear left this 
town, is yet in my mind ; and God forbid that ever I forget 
it." He alluded to speeches which had been made by some 
to the effect that the Protestant religion had never been estab- 
lished by law, and declared that those who spoke such things 
deserved to be hanged upon a gallows. He adverted to the 
rumours which were in circulation in regard to the marriage of 
the queen with the Infant of Spain, and said that if the nobles 
consented to her marrying a Papist, they would banish Jesus 
Christ from the realm, and bring God's judgments upon the 
country and themselves. 1 All this was uttered as Knox could 
utter his fierce philippics, with a voice low and calm at first, 
but soon rising into a perfect hurricane. 

Rumours of this soon reached the palace, and again the 
preacher was summoned into the presence of the queen. 
Knox found Mary in a violent fit of grief and rage. " I have 
borne with you," she exclaimed, "in all your rigorous manner 
of speaking, both against myself and my uncles ; I have even 
sought your favour by all possible means ; I offered you pre- 
sence and audience whenever you pleased to admonish me ; 
and yet I cannot be quit of you. I vow to God I shall be re- 
venged ; " and so saying she burst into tears. Knox was 
unmoved ; he could even afterwards mock at her grief. 
" Scarce could her page," says he, " get handkerchiefs to hold 
her eyes dry ; for the tears and the howling, besides womanly 
weeping, staid her speech." When the fit of crying had sub- 
sided, Knox remarked, " that when it should please God to 
deliver her Majesty from the bondage of error in which she 
had been nourished, she would not find the liberty of his 
tongue to be offensive ; and that in the pulpit it was his duty 
to speak plain, and flatter no flesh." " But what,' ; cried she 
passionately, "have you to do with my marriage?" for her 
heart was set upon the Spanish match, and it was all but 
arranged. In answer to this Knox said, " that he must preach 
repentance, which implied the noting of particular sins;" and 
" it so happens," said he, " that the most part of the nobility 
are so devoted to your wishes, that neither God's Word nor 
yet the commonwealth are rightly regarded ; and therefore it 

1 Knox's History, book iv. There was the same agitation in England 
ten years earlier in regard to the marriage of Mary with Philip of Spain. 
(See Froude, vol. vi.) 


becometh me to speak, that they may know their duty." " But 
what have you to do with my marriage,'' she again asked, " or 
what are you within the commonwealth?" "A subject born 
within the same," said Knox, proudly; "and albeit I be 
neither earl, lord, nor baron, yet hath God made me a profit- 
able and useful member." "My vocation craves," he con- 
tinued, " plainness of speech, and therefore, madam, I say to 
yourself what I have spoken in public, that whenever the 
nobility shall consent to your marrying an unlawful husband, 
they will do as much as in them lies to renounce Christ, banish 
truth, betray the freedom of the realm, and bring discomfort 
upon yourself." Upon this the queen again gave way to a 
passionate fit of crying. Erskine of Dun had accompanied 
John Knox into the queen's presence, and now did everything 
he could to soothe and comfort her; but "the said John," to 
quote his own description of the scene, "stood still, without 
any alteration of countenance." At length he said that he did 
not delight in the weeping of any of God's creatures ; that it 
grieved him to hear his own children cry when he whipped 
them ; but that still he must speak the truth. This species of 
sympathy only increased the anger of the queen, and so the 
unflinching Reformer was ordered to leave her presence, and 
wait her pleasure in an adjoining room. 

When Knox came into the outer apartment the courtiers 
carefully avoided him — Lord Ochiltree alone came and spoke 
to him. But he found himself in the midst of the ladies of the 
court, gorgeously apparelled, and probably busy at their 
tapestry. " Fair ladies," said he, with a smile on his face, 
"how pleasant were this life of yours if it should ever abide ; 
and then in the end that we might pass to heaven with this gay 
gear. But fe upon that knave death, that will come whether 
we will or not ; and when he hath laid on the arrest, then foul 
worms will be busy with this flesh, be it never so fair and so 
tender; and the silly soul, I fear, shall be so feeble, that it 
ran neither carry with it gold, garnishing, targating, pearl, nor 
precious stones." 1 With such moralisings, which remind us of 
Hamlet, he entertained the maids of honour for a long hour, 
till the Laird of Dun came and told him he might go home. 
Perhaps as he made his way up the Canongate he thought, 
" better that women weep than bearded men," and so justified 

In the autumn of this year, the queen paid a visit to the 
western counties. During her absence from the capital, her 
1 Knox's History, book iv. 


household, as usual, attended mass in the chapel on the Sunday. 
On that day the sacrament of the Supper was administered in 
St Gile's ; and the solemn services had unhappily awakened 
religious rancour rather than Christian charity. A crowd of 
citizens gathered around the palace \ some of them entered the 
chapel, and interrupted the service. A riot was apprehended ; 
the magistrates were called upon to interfere ; and two of the 
ringleaders were seized and committed for trial. Knox 
believed that the Protestant religion would be compromised if 
these two men were punished ; and so he wrote circular letters to 
the leading Reformers in different parts of the country, request- 
ing their presence in Edinburgh on the day of the trial. The 
Protestant gathering was no doubt designed to overawe the 
judges. It was a plan which had frequently succeeded during 
the Reformation struggle. It was a plan which feudal barons 
well knew; and in feudal times magistrates were often required 
to pronounce sentence in a court crowded with the armed 
retainers of the accused. A copy of Knox's circular came 
into the hands of the queen, and was pronounced to be 
treasonable. He was summoned before the council, to answer 
to the charge of having convocated the queen's lieges. Mary 
herself sat at the head of the council-table, hardly able to con- 
ceal her satisfaction at having now got her arch-enemy within 
her power. Knox stood at the foot of it, with his head 
uncovered. Lethington exerted all his ingenuity to get a 
verdict of guilty. The accused, when requested to answer for 
himself, drew a distinction between lawful and unlawful con- 
vocations ; some of his friends in the council, anxious to save 
him, caught it up ; and he w r as almost unanimously acquitted, 
to the queen's great chagrin. " That night," said the triumphant 
Knox, " there was neither dancing nor fiddling in the court, 
for our sovereign was disappointed of her purpose." l But 
though he was acquitted of treason, the more moderate 
Reformers blamed his violence, and few 7 attempted altogether 
to justify his conduct. 

During the year 1564, the great subject of conversation and 
anxiety in Scotland was the marriage of the queen. Gossips 
talked of it over their bread and ale ; and diplomatists, ambas- 
sadors, and ministers of state discussed it in cabinets. It was 
known that the King of Sweden, the Infant of Spain, and the 
second son of the Emperor, had offered her their royal hearts 
and hands. But Mary, who had ever an eye on the English 

1 Knox's History, book iv. 


throne, was anxious to consult the wishes of Elizabeth ; and 
Elizabeth was averse to her forming an alliance with a foreign 
potentate. It was known that if she could have had her own 
way she would have preferred the Prince of Spain to any other 
match ; but both Elizabeth and her own subjects were utterly 
opposed to her marrying a Papist. The Queen of England, 
not yet too old to love, suggested her own gallant, the Earl of 
Leicester ; but her royal cousin justly suspected her sincerity, 
and more justly still considered the match as unbecoming her 
sovereign dignity. Mary had now been a widow for nearly 
three years, and was most anxious to marry again ; but Eliza- 
beth's intrigues threw such continual obstacles in her way, that 
she was outstripped in the matrimonial race by a competitor 
whom we could scarcely have expected to have found in such 
a contest. This was John Knox. He also had passed three 
years in widowhood, and was now verging upon the venerable 
age of sixty. He was an austere man ; and to have seen him 
stern and unmoved in the presence of the weeping Mary, one 
would have thought him incapable of being influenced either 
by a woman's hate or a woman's love. But he must have had 
his softer moods ; for the rough old man wooed and won 
Margaret Stewart, a daughter of Lord Ochiltree's, a young lady 
just escaping from her teens. Many thought the thing so ex- 
traordinary that they ascribed the girl's passion to witchcraft ; 
but it is certain that the parents, as well as the bride, were 
delighted with the match. 1 For a time people ceased to 
speculate about Mary's marriage to talk of Knox's wedding. 

But the veteran bridegroom took home his bride, the tittle- 
tattle died away, and again the subject of discourse was the 
future husband of the queen. In the month of February 1565, 

1 M'Crie's Life of Knox, period vii. Dr M'Crie, in his appendix, has a 
curious note about Knox's courtship, taken from Nicol Burne's Disputa- 
tion. He is said to have first asked the eldest daughter of the Duke of 
Chastelherault, and was refused ; and then he set his heart npon Lord 
Ochiltree's daughter. " Rydand thair with ane gret court, on ane trim 
gelding, nocht lyk ane prophet or ane auld decrepit priest, as he was, bot 
lyk as he had bene ane of the blude royal, with his bendes of taffetie 
feschnit with golden ringis and precious stanes ; and as is plainlie reportit 
in the countrey, be sorcerie and witchcraft did sua allure that puir gentil 
woman that scho could not leve without him ; whilk apperis to be of greit 
probabilitie, scho being ane damsel of nobil blude, and he ane auld decre- 
pit creatur of maist bais degrie of onie that could be found in the countrey." 
It is comical to hear Knox described as a dandy ; it is equally so to find 
Ninian Wingate taunting him for his "southron tongue." He appears to 
have been both Anglilied and dandyfied. 

A.D. 1564.] LORD DARNLEY. 323 

Lord Darnley arrived in Scotland. He was handsome, the 
next heir to the English throne after Mary herself; his foolish- 
ness and vice were as yet latent ; and if the queen was to marry 
a subject, whom better could she find ? Beside the tall, slender 
person of the stripling, there were many political reasons in 
favour of the match ; and it soon became known that Mary 
had given to him her heart. The nobility in a body gave their 
consent; and it was hoped the Queen of England would give 
her approbation too. But Elizabeth's policy led her in an 
opposite course ; and moreover she seems to have had a 
malicious pleasure in teasing her fairer cousin in her matri- 
monial projects. She despatched an ambassador to Scotland 
to do everything in his power to prevent it. Moray, too, 
began to show his aversion to the marriage ; and when the 
sentiments of Elizabeth were known, his aversion became still 
more decided. The feeling was infectious, and quickly 
spread. Moray did not like the match, for it would take 
the sceptre out of his hands; the Duke of Chastelherault 
did not like the match, for it would take the hope of the crown 
from off his head; Elizabeth did not like the match, from 
female jealousy and state craft; and where these led many were 
sure to follow. Argyll, Glencairn, Rothes, Ochiltree, threw in 
their lot with them ; and an armed resistance was secretly 
organised, under the fostering care of the English queen. 

Things were in this state when the General Assembly met 
on the 24th of June. Moray and Knox had been reconciled. 
Knox was at the devotion of Moray, and the General Assembly 
was at the devotion of Knox. Certain articles of petition and 
complaint were prepared to be laid before the queen. They 
were to the effect — That the blasphemous mass, with all 
papistry and idolatry, should be suppressed throughout the 
realm, not only in her subjects, but in her Majesty's own per- 
son ; and every one compelled to resort, on the Sundays at 
least, to prayers and the preaching of the Word : That some 
sure provision should be made for the maintenance of the 
ministry : That none should be permitted to teach in schools, 
colleges, or universities, or even to act as private tutors, till 
they were first examined and approved of by the superintend- 
ents : That all lands anciently doted to hospitals, all revenues 
belonging to the friars, and all obits, altarages, and such dues 
pertaining to the priests, should be appropriated to the main- 
tenance of schools and the support of the poor : That such 
horrible crimes as idolatry, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, 
witchcraft, sorcery, adultery, whoredom, murder, &c, should 


be severely punished : That order should be taken to give 
relief to the poor labourers of the ground from the unreason- 
able payment of tithes, taken over their heads without their 
consent. 1 

The first of these articles asked the queen to renounce her re- 
ligion. That she should be compelled to do so had always been 
the opinion of Knox, but not of Moray. Now they were at one. 
It could not have been expected that the queen would yield 
to such a compulsory method of conversion ; but she made a 
conciliatory reply, and declared that all her Protestant subjects 
would enjoy the same liberty of conscience which she claimed 
for herself, and that she was willing to leave the ratification of 
the Reformed faith to the Estates of the realm. This was not 
deemed to be enough ; perhaps no declaration whatever would. 
But an object had been gained. It was important that reli- 
gious enthusiasm should give its aid to political craft, and there- 
fore the cry was raised that the Church was in danger ; but the 
people in general were shrewd enough to see that it was raised 
for factious purposes ; and indeed there is reason to believe 
that there was less cause for alarm at this juncture than at any 
period since the queen's arrival in the realm. She had recently 
gone so far as to attend a Protestant sermon ; she had admitted 
three of the superintendents to an interview, and declared her 
willingness to listen to discussion regarding disputed points ot 
faith ; she had expressed a desire to hear Erskine preach, 
whom she appears to have regarded with kindness since his 
attempt to comfort her under the rebukes of Knox ; and at 
that very time she had requested the most powerful of the 
Protestant nobles to meet her at Perth, that some arrange- 
ments might be made regarding their religion, but they de- 
clined to meet her under various pretences. 

It was known that the queen, in the company of Lord Darn- 
ley, was to pass from Perth to Callander. The discontented 
lords, with the approbation of the English resident, resolved 
to waylay them ; but the queen got a hint of what was in- 
tended, and was so early in her saddle that she gave them the 

On the morning of Sunday the 29th of July, Mary, attired in 
black velvet, was married to Lord Darnley in the Chapel of 
Holyrood. The ceremony was performed according to the 
rites of the Catholic Church, but immediately after it was over 
Darnley, who, though a Catholic, wished to trim his sails for 
1 Book of the Universal Kirk, pp. 28, 29. 


Protestant favour, left the chapel, not to be present at the ser- 
vice of the mass. On Sunday the 19th of August, he repaired 
to St Gile's to hear John Knox preach. Knox chose his text 
from Isaiah — " O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have 
had dominion over us." He expatiated on the government of 
wicked princes, who were sent to plague nations for their sins, 
and " amongst other things said, that God set in that station, 
for the offences and ingratitude of the people, boys and 
women," and then went on to declare "that God had justly 
punished Ahab and his posterity because he would not take 
order with the harlot Jezebel." 1 A kind of throne had been 
erected in the church, that the young king might sit in state 
and listen to the sermon ; but he soon began to perceive that 
the preacher was coarsely lecturing himself and the queen, and 
left the church boiling with indignation. When he got home 
to the palace, he could eat no dinner, and went out to hawk 
in the afternoon, that he might soothe his choler in the open 

We have refrained up to this time from saying much regard- 
ing these pulpit exhibitions of Knox. The liberty of the 
pulpit is certainly a thing quite as sacred as the liberty of the 
press. It were a grievous calamity, even now, if the preachers of 
the gospel were restricted to speak only the prevalent opinions 
of the court ; it had been a greater calamity still had it been 
so in the days of the Reformation, when the press was yet in 
its infancy, and the pulpit the only means of acting on the in- 
telligence of the people. Had the preachers become the 
mouthpiece of princes, had they gilded fashionable vices, 
recommended obedience to tyrannical decrees, exalted kings 
into gods, the preaching of those truths which should make 
men free would have been converted into a means for their 
enslavement. A woe is on the country where despotism cannot 
be denounced as a sin ; where the people cannot be told that 
God has made them free. But liberty is ever apt to degenerate 
into licentiousness, and the law of libel has been devised, which 
now operates as a check upon the licentiousness alike of the 
pulpit and the press. In no place, however sacred, can a 
man be indulged with an unbridled latitude of speech ; men's 
characters, feelings, interests, must be protected from the 
assaults of envy, malice, and falsehood. If a man will speak, 
he must be responsible for what he says. Knox would have 

1 Knox's History, book iv. 


it, that for what he said in the pulpit he was answerable only 
to God — a dangerous doctrine. 

The truth is, Knox in the pulpit was stronger than Mary in 
her palace, and all his harsh and uncharitable speeches against 
her escaped with impunity. But when Knox is placed at the 
bar of a posterity which is stronger than the strongest, and 
cannot be overawed, he cannot be acquitted. We do not con- 
demn him for introducing politics into the pulpit, for at such 
a crisis that was inevitable ; we do not condemn him for 
unveiling foreign conspiracies, for that was patriotic ; but we 
condemn him for attacking with such coarse virulence persons 
whose position should have commanded respect. It was too 
bad that a queen who had as yet been convicted of no crime 
but a conscientious attachment to the religion in which she 
had been educated, should be publicly compared to every 
harlot, murderer, and idolater mentioned in the Old Testa- 
ment, and that even prayer should have been prostituted to 
the purposes of abuse. Nor can we accept the apologetic plea 
that his invectives seem coarse only to the squeamish delicacy 
of modern times ; that his calumnious way of speaking was the 
current language of the period. Knox was blamed by his 
compeers, remonstrated with, threatened, but in vain. Leth- 
ington reasoned with him, Moray reasoned with him. His 
best friends, as he himself confesses, were scandalized and 
estranged from him by his violence; and Randolph the 
English resident, notwithstanding his favour for the faction to 
which Knox belonged, again and again alludes to his unseason- 
able severity. Nor did the Reformation require such vituper- 
ative speeches. In some respects it was injured by them. 
They gave deep cause of offence to the court ; they cooled the 
affection of many of the nobles ; and were probably one of the 
reasons which deferred for so long a suitable provision for the 
Reformed ministry. 

Knox was not perfect, as no man is. He was coarse, fierce, 
dictatorial \ but he had great redeeming qualities — qualities 
which are seldom found in such stormy, changeful periods as 
that in which he lived. He was consistent, sincere, unselfish, 
far-seeing. From first to last he pursued the same straight, 
unswerving course, turning neither to the right hand nor to 
the left ; firm amid continual vicissitudes \ and if he could 
have burned and disembowelled unhappy Papists, he would 
have done it with the fullest conviction that he was doing 
God service. He hated Popery with a perfect hatred; and 


regarding Mary and her mother as its chief personations in the 
land, he followed them through life with a rancour which was 
all the more deadly because it was rooted in religion. The 
suspicions he had of their designs have been proved to be 
well founded. He was perhaps fond of power and popularity, 
but he gained them by no mean compliances. On a question 
of principle he w r ould quarrel with the highest. His hands 
were clean of bribes. He did not grow rich by the spoils of 
the Reformation. He w r as content to live and die the minister 
of St Gile's. Is not such an one, rough and bearish though 
he be, more to be venerated than the supple, time-serving 
Churchmen who were the tools of the English Reformation ? 
Does he not stand out in pleasing relief from the grasping 
barons with whom he was associated, who hated monks 
because they coveted their corn-fields, and afterwards dis- 
graced the religion they professed by their feuds, their con- 
spiracies, and cold-blooded assassinations ? 

Meanwhile the discontented nobles, depending upon the 
assistance of England, had broken out into open rebellion. 
A few days after her marriage, Mary placed herself at the 
head of her troops, chased them from town to town, and 
finally compelled them to seek shelter in England. They had 
implored the promised aid from Elizabeth ; but Elizabeth had 
seen that their case was hopeless, and left them to their fate. 
The faction was broken to pieces. The Earl of Moray and 
the Abbot of Kilwinning, leaving their discomfited com- 
panions at Newcastle, repaired to the court of London. But it 
was not the policy of Elizabeth to appear openly to favour 
unsuccessful rebels. They were at first refused admittance ; 
and w T hen they were admitted, they were compelled to go 
down upon their knees before the imperious queen, in the 
presence of the ambassadors of France and Spain, and declare 
that they had not been incited to rebellion by her Majesty ; 
and when they had submitted to this indignity, and uttered 
this falsehood, they were told to get out of her presence, as 
they were unworthy traitors. 1 It was a solemn farce on the 
part of the queen to keep up appearances, as we soon find her 
exerting herself to procure their pardon. 

March 1 ^66 ^ * s a ^ ar ^ P a S e °f our history upon which 

we now enter. In the month of March a par- 
liament was to be held, in which it was expected that Moray 
and his associates wxmld be outlawed, and their immense pos- 
1 Sir James Melville's Memoirs, pp. 112, 113. 


sessions confiscated. The parliament was opened, but its 
proceedings were suddenly and fearfully stayed. A conspiracy 
had been organised by the king (who had proved a silly, 
jealous, libertine lad), the Earl of Morton, Lord Ruthven, the 
Secretary Maitland, and the banished nobles, to murder 
Rizzio, who was thought to have too much influence with the 
queen, to imprison the queen herself, confer upon Darnley the 
crown-matrimonial, and restore to the rebels their honours and 
estates. The English queen was made aware of the con- 
spiracy, and there is a strong suspicion that Knox and Craig, 
the two ministers of Edinburgh, were made privy to it too. 1 
On a Saturday evening the unhappy Italian was foully mur- 
dered, almost in the presence of the queen. Mary was kept a 
prisoner in her room. The banished lords were instantly in 
Edinburgh. Moray was received with affection by his sister, 
who clung to him in her hour of need, being yet ignorant of 
the part which he had in the conspiracy. But Mary's influence 
over her feeble husband was not yet gone. He repented him 
of his rashness, and fled with her. Their friends gathered 
around them, they marched upon Edinburgh, and the assassins 
were obliged to flee for their lives. Darnley now protested his 
own innocence, but revealed his accomplices, and insisted on 
their punishment. They, in revenge, produced the documents, 
which proved not only that he was a party to the conspiracy, 
but that he had openly asserted the dishonour of his wife. 
A wrong had been done to Mary which she could not forgive. 
A solemn bond had been violated with men, who, destitute of 
all other faith, esteemed fidelity to one another a sacred virtue, 
and it must be avenged. Less than a year revealed it all. 

Mary, now a mother, did not attempt to conceal her estrange- 
ment from Darnley ; and Darnley, deprived of the royal favour, 
sunk into universal contempt. The Earl of Bothwell, in the 
meantime, had made himself useful to the queen, had seized 
every opportunity of insinuating himself into her favour, and 
perhaps had already gained her heart. A divorce from Darn- 
ley was talked of \ but there were difficulties in the way, and 

1 This is debateable ground in history. The question is interesting in 
a historical point of view, but not in a moral point of view, as affecting 
Knox's character. We know he approved of the murder after it was com- 
mitted ; and to approve of a murder after its commission is in a moral 
point of view the same as to approve of it before its commission. He was, 
moreover, a keen advocate of tyrannicide, as Buchanan and other leading 
men of the time were. 

A.D. 1567.] MURDER OF DARNLEY. 329 

it was abandoned. The simple remedy of desperadoes must 
be resorted to. A new conspiracy was organised. A new bond 
for blood was drawn up. It was signed by Bothwell, Huntly, 
Argyll, Lethington, and Balfour. It was afterwards made 
known to the Earl of Morton. The plot ramified still more 
widely : the Archbishop of St Andrews and the Earl of Moray 
are said to have received intimation of it. The king was to be 
got rid of by murder. Was Mary ignorant that she was on the 
eve of a second widowhood ? God alone knows all, but a fear- 
ful suspicion rests upon her name, and the casket-letters all 
but prove her guilt. Early on the morning of Monday, the 
10th of February 1567, the house in the suburbs of Edinburgh 
where the king slept was blown up with gunpowder, and the 
loud report awakened the whole city. A crowd was soon col- 
lected on the spot, and the king's body was found in an 
adjoining field, nearly naked, and entirely unscathed by fire. 
It was thought he had been caught rushing from the house 
just before the explosion, and strangled. Bothwell was in- 
stantly suspected of the murder : voices in the night pro- 
claimed it ; labels secretly posted up in the streets proclaimed 
it ; but none dared openly to accuse him, saving the father of 
the murdered man. Meanwhile Mary was continually in 
Bothwell's society, and delayed to bring him to trial. When 
a trial could no longer be deferred, he appeared before a court 
constituted after his own liking, surrounded by his own re- 
tainers, and overawed by the guns of the castle which he com- 
manded. Lennox, his accuser, was forbidden to approach 
Edinburgh with more than six followers ; and so unattended, 
he was afraid to come. The indictment was read ; no accuser 
appeared \ no witnesses were called ; and after this mockery 
of law and justice, a verdict of " not guilty " was brought in 
by the jury. 

What followed is soon told. It is a story of sin and shame, 
followed by wretchedness and ruin. Mary married the man 
who was universally believed to be her husband's murderer. 
She appears to have been mad in love with him, though one 
of the most dissolute men of the time. Some even fancy that 
her passion for him had for the time quenched her zeal for 
Rome. She sanctioned provisions for the support of the 
Protestant preachers, cancelled all permissions to use the 
offices of her own religion, cut down church vestments of 
cloth of gold to make a robe for her lover, and consented to 
be married according to the Reformed rites. While her 


infatuation lasted, she was willing to sacrifice everything for 
him, but it was an abandonment of herself to what she knew 
was bad. 1 Her downward progress in guilt had been awfully 
rapid — as a woman's always is. She had been living amidst 
conspirators and assassins, and had learned their ways. Why 
trace her corruption back to France, which she had left when 
almost a child : had she not witnessed dark scenes, had she 
not associated with bloody men in Holyrood House ? But 
when the cup of iniquity is full, it runs over. The nation 
could bear this burden of guilt no more. A number of the 
nobles took arms. The people sympathised with them. 
Resistance was attempted ; but, deserted by their troops at 
Carberry Hill, Bothwell was glad to flee, and Mary to surren- 
der herself into the hands of her subjects. She was brought 
to Edinburgh, marched through the streets, insulted by the 
mob, and finally sent as a prisoner to the Castle of Lochleven 
to await her fate. 

While these things were doing, the General Assembly of 
the Church was sitting. It was of the utmost importance 
that the lords who had the queen in their power should be 
joined by their brother peers, the great bulk of whom held 
back ; and the influence of the Assembly was employed for 
this purpose. The Assembly was prorogued till the 20th of 
July. Missives were directed to nearly forty influential 
barons, inviting them to attend ; and Knox, Douglas, Row, 
and Craig were commissioned to wait upon those to whom 
the missives were sent, to urge by every argument their pre- 
sence in Edinburgh at the time appointed. 2 The missives 
calling this extraordinary Assembly mention only the neces- 
sity of extirpating Popery, and providing for the Reformed 
ministry; but the narrative of Knox, as well as subsequent 
events, makes it clear that the great object was to secure the 
concurrence of as many nobles as possible to the political re- 
volution that was in progress. Very few of the invited lords 
appeared. They made the disturbed state of the kingdom 
a reason for their absence. 

The Assembly again met. The revolutionary lords, dis- 
appointed of their brethren, and anxious to conciliate the 
Church, which was omnipotent with the people, promised 
everything that was asked of them. In the presence of the 
Assembly they put their hands to a document, promising to 

1 Robertson's Concilia, vol. i., Ptef. clxxii., clxxiii. 

2 Book of the Universal Kirk, pp. 55-57. Keith, book iii. 

A.D. 1567.] MARY IN LOCHLEVEN. 33 1 

have the Parliament of August 1560, which established the 
Reformation, ratified ; the ecclesiastical lands given back to 
ecclesiastical uses \ the education of youth entrusted to the 
clergy ; and idolatry everywhere put down. In the same 
document they bound themselves to revenge the murder of 
Darnley, to guard the young prince his son from all danger, 
to see him educated in the Protestant faith, and to cause all 
future sovereigns to swear to maintain the Reformed religion 
previous to their coronation. 1 

Meanwhile, in every coterie in the kingdom it was debated 
what should be done with the queen. Some proposed she 
should be divorced from Bothwell, and restored to the 
throne ; some suggested she should take the veil, and spend 
the remainder of her days in a French monastery. Some 
gave it as their opinion that she should be deprived of the 
government, and doomed to perpetual imprisonment ; some 
argued that the short and simple plan was to put her to 
death. Of what was said and done in the Assembly of the 
Church in regard to these grave matters, we have no record ; 
we are only told that the debates were sanguinary. But we 
know that Knox, who had been out of the country since 
the murder of Rizzio and was now returned, was clamorous 
for the death of the queen, and Throkmorton wrote to 
Elizabeth that the Assembly demanded that the murder of 
the king should be punished according to the laws of God 
and man. 2 Immediately after the Assembly dissolved, Lord 
Lindsay proceeded to Lochleven, bearing three documents. 
The first was a deed of demission by the queen in favour of 
her infant son ; the second was a deed appointing the Earl 
of Moray regent of the kingdom during the minority of 
James ; the third was a deed empowering the Duke of 
Chastelherault, and the Earls of Lennox, Argyll, Athole, 
Morton, Glencairn, and Mar, to govern the realm till the 
return of Moray from abroad. It is not too much to suppose 
that these documents were concocted and resolved upon in 
the Assembly of the Church. With death before her eyes in 
case of refusal, Mary signed the instruments. 

Moray was in France during this amazing revolution, but 
he now hurried home. He was not long in the country till 

1 Fourteenth General Assembly, pp. 65-69. (Book of the Universal 
Kirk.) Keith, book iii. 

2 Throkmorton to Elizabeth, 25th July. Froude's History, vol. ix. 
p. 138. 


he visited his captive sister at Lochleven. Mary received 
him with kisses and tears ; but instead of being affected by 
her misfortunes, or remembering the many favours he had 
received at her hands, he bitterly upbraided her for her 
crimes, and presented to her mind the possibility of an 
ignominious death. Bewildered by grief and fear, she be- 
sought him as her brother to accept the regency, and so 
save the country, her infant, and herself. Moray affected 
to accept with reluctance an office which he had long 
earnestly desired, for which many affirmed he had all his 
life-time plotted and schemed. The full height of his am- 
bition was all but attained. On the 2 2d of August he was 
declared regent of the kingdom ; and the bells of Edinburgh 
were ringing rejoicings, while Mary was pining in her solitary 
prison in Lochleven. 


The Regent Moray soon showed that, if he 
had aspired to rule, his abilities were equal to 
his ambition. It was immediately felt that the government 
of the country was no longer in the hands of a woman. 
The fierce baron in his feudal keep, the bandit on the bor- 
ders, the gillie in the mountain-pass, knew he might no 
more rob and murder with impunity. But a large portion 
of the nobility were discontented with the government; 
they might at any time organise a formidable opposition to 
it ; and therefore the regent hastened to secure the good- 
will of the Protestant ministers, by whose influence chiefly 
he had clamb to power. Pledges had been given in the 
last Assembly, and these must be redeemed. On the 15th 
of December, the parliament met. Its first business was to 
accept the resignation of the queen, and give its sanction to 
the coronation of James and the regency of Moray. This 
done, a series of acts affecting the Church were passed. 
The parliament of August 1560, which first established the 
Reformation, had never received the royal sanction ; and 
therefore it was deemed prudent to re-enact its enactments. 
The jurisdiction of the Pope was abolished ; all laws in 
favour of "the Roman Catholic religion were repealed ; the 


Protestant Confession of Faith was ratified and engrossed 
in the records \ and the saying or hearing of mass was 
declared to be a crime punishable with confiscation of goods 
for the first offence, banishment for the second, death for 
the third. Sticklers for constitutional forms regard this as 
the true establishment of the Protestant Church ; as the 
previous acts had never been ratified by the head of the 
State. Legislation proceeded still farther, and declared the 
Church now established to be the only true Church of 
Christ, and those only to be members of it who should accept 
of the Confession as now ratified, and partake of the sacra- 
ments as now administered. Another act was passed pro- 
hibiting any one from holding office, or from acting as a 
procurator or notary in any court, till he should first profess 
the Reformed faith ; and another and still more important 
one, providing that every future sovereign should, at his 
coronation, swear before the Eternal God that he would 
maintain the true religion of Christ Jesus, abolish all false 
religions contrary to the same, and rule the people com- 
mitted to his charge according to the will of God revealed in 
His Word, and the lovable laws and constitutions received 
in the realm. It was a wise piece of legislation. It may 
have savoured of intolerance to insist on the Catholic 
queen of a hitherto Catholic country changing her faith 
because her subjects had changed theirs; but there was no 
intolerance in a Protestant country notifying to all future 
expectants of the throne that they must be Protestants if 
they would be its king. The time chosen, too, was oppor- 
tune. James was a child, and might be educated in the 
Protestant faith, and so saved the struggle of overcoming 
early prejudices, or the hypocrisy of professing a religion 
which he did not believe. 

All was not yet done that was needful to be done. It was 
needful that arrangements should be made as to the admission 
of ministers, and stipends for them after they were admitted. 
In regard to the former, it was " statute and ordained by our 
sovereign lord, with advice of his dearest regent and the 
Three Estates of this present parliament," that the examina- 
tion and admission of ministers should lie with the Church, 
and that the presentation should lie with the ancient lay 
patrons ; but that if the patron failed to present a properly- 
qualified person to the superintendent within six months, the 
right of presentation should lapse to the Church. In the 


event of the superintendent refusing to induct the presentee 
of the patron, it was provided that there might be an appeal 
to the provincial synod, and from the provincial synod to the 
General Assembly, whose sentence was to be final. In regard 
to the stipends of the clergy, an act was passed, proceeding 
upon the preamble that the ministers had been long defrauded 
of their stipends, so that they were come to great poverty, and 
yet that they had continued in their vocation, but that they 
should be constrained to leave it unless some remedy were 
provided. It was therefore enacted that the stipends of the 
clergy should first be paid out of the whole thirds of the 
whole realm, and that not till this was done should the 
surplus be applied to swell the royal revenue. From this act 
it is plain that the poverty of the ministers had not arisen 
altogether from the insufficiency of the stipends assigned to 
them, but from these, such as they were, being irregularly 
and imperfectly paid. Their claims were now to be held 
paramount to all others. But the clergy had claimed the 
whole patrimony of the Church ; the barons who sat in the 
last Assembly had promised it ; the regent is said not to have 
been opposed to it ; but it was too strong a measure to pro- 
pose and carry in the face of so much greed and selfishness, 
Hope, however, was kept alive in the minds of the ministers 
by a clause purporting that the present measure was to be 
only a temporary one, to serve " ay and quhill the Kirk come 
to the full possession of its proper patrimonie, quhilk is the 
teindes." Vain hope ! every day was making the thing more 
hopeless by new alienations. 1 

It is not a little curious to find the same parliament which 
passed these strongly -Protestant measures ratifying all the 
civil privileges anciently possessed by the Spiritual Estate of 
the realm ; and by the Spiritual Estate is meant not the Pro- 
testant ministers, but the Popish hierarchy. The act regard- 
ing the Spiritual Estate is followed by two others ratifying the 
privileges of the barons and the burghs. 2 Strange that the 
Popish dignitaries should still be recognised as the first of the 
Three Estates ; that, driven from the Church and the altar, 
they should still be allowed to sit in the Senate. In the very 
parliament in which these things were done, four bishops and 
fourteen abbots sat, and spoke, and voted. They were mostly 

1 Acts of Pari. James I., pari. i. chapters i.-xii. 
- James I., pari. i. chapters xxiv.-xxvi. 

A.D. 1567-8.] MARY ESCAPES. 335 

Protestants; but it was in virtue of their positions in the Roman 
hierarchy that they occupied their places. 

The parliament was hardly dissolved when 
Dec. 25, 1567. tlie Genera i Assembly met. It met bent on 

enforcing discipline. The Earl of Argyll was taken to task 
for separating from his wife ; and the Countess of Argyll for 
being present at the Popish baptism of the prince. The Earl 
declared the fault was not his, but for other offences professed 
himself willing to submit to the discipline of the Church. 
The lady confessed her fault, and was ordered to make public 
repentance in the Chapel Royal at Stirling. John Craig, one 
of the ministers of Edinburgh, was accused of having pub- 
lished the banns of marriage between the queen and the 
Earl of Bothwell ; but he amply vindicated his conduct by 
proving that in proclaiming the banns he had openly con- 
demned the marriage. Adam, called Bishop of Orkney, was 
charged with not visiting the kirks of his province \ acting as 
a judge in the Court of Session; keeping company with Sir 
Francis Bothwell, a Popish priest, bestowing upon him 
benefices, and placing him as a minister ; and, above all, 
solemnizing the marriage between the queen and the Earl of 
Bothwell. The bishop pleaded that his health would not 
allow him to remain in Orkney ; that he was ignorant of Sir 
Francis being a Papist ; but being unable to exculpate him- 
self for marrying the queen, he was suspended from his 
office, and not restored till he professed his penitence 
publicly in the Chapel of Holyrood. The Bishop of Gallo- 
way was accused of not having visited the churches in his 
district for three years ; of having ceased to plant churches ; 
of haunting the court too much ; of acting as a judge and 
privy-counsellor ; of having resigned the Abbey of InchafTray 
in favour of a child ; and having set lands in feu to the pre- 
judice of the kirk. 1 

In the beginning of May 1568, the news spread through 
the country like wildfire that the queen had escaped from 
her prison in Lochleven. Escaped she certainly had, and 
in a few days she found herself at Hamilton, surrounded by a 
great majority of the nobility and gentry of the realm, eager 
for her restoration to the throne. But the Regent Moray 
proved himself equal to the occasion, and in a few days 
more the unhappy Mary, from the top of Langside Hill, saw 
her hopes blighted, and her army scattered like chaff; and, 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, Dec. 1567. Keith, book iii. chap. ii. 


turning her horse's head to the south, she sought shelter in 
England — a fugitive from her ancestral kingdom — a suppliant 
at the feet of Elizabeth. How it fared with her all the 
world knows : — Accused of the murder of her husband by her 
own brother ; detained for eighteen long years in captivity ; 
finally brought to the block ; she went from the world leaving 
behind her a name not unsullied by suspicion, but which still 
moves every heart to pity her misfortunes, and almost to forget 
her crimes. 

Moray did not long enjoy his regency. On the 23d day 
of January 1570, in passing through the town of Linlithgow, 
he was shot at from a window by Hamilton of Bothwell- 
haugh. The street was narrow, the crowd of spectators 
obstructed the way, the assassin had time to take deliberate 
aim, and the wound proved mortal. His body was conveyed 
to Edinburgh, and followed to the grave by an immense 
concourse of mourners. When the procession reached the 
Church of St Gile's, the coffin was placed upon a bier in 
front of the pulpit, and while it lay there, in the view of the 
people, Knox preached a sermon from the text — " Blessed 
are the dead which die in the Lord." Lowered into his last 
resting-place in St Anthony's aisle, his epitaph was written 
by the classic pen of Buchanan, in which he is bewailed as 
the best man of his age, and the common father of his 

Posterity has vindicated the encomium of Buchanan by 
bestowing upon Moray the enviable name of the Good 
Regent. Yet the impartial reader of history may find it diffi- 
cult to assign such unqualified praise. Moray's devotion to 
England may be thought inconsistent with patriotism, his 
conduct to his sister at variance with natural affection, his 
share in bloody conspiracies as opposed to true Christianity. 
But be this as it may, he undoubtedly possessed great 
qualities. He was born to govern, and, during his short 
regency, he rendered a turbulent country peaceful and happy. 
His private life was irreproachable. " His house," says the 
affectionate Buchanan, 1 " like an holy temple, was free not 
only from impiety, but even from wanton words. After 
dinner and supper he always caused a chapter out of the 
Holy Bible to be read \ and though he had still a learned 
man to interpret it, yet if there were any eminent scholars 
there (as frequently there were a great many, and such were 
1 History of Scotland, book xix. 

A.D. 1570.] REGENT MORAY. 337 

still respected by him) he would ask their opinions of it, 
which he did not out of a vain ambition, but a desire to con- 
form himself to its rules." There can be no doubt but that 
his attachment to Protestantism was sincere, persevered in, 
as it was, from boyhood till the day of his death. The 
preachers might well bewail him, for he courted their favour, 
and showed himself on all occasions attentive to their interests. 
His enemies accused him of aiming at the supreme power, 
and he was scarcely in his grave till a document was put in 
circulation, purporting to be an account of an interview acci- 
dentally overheard between him and some of his friends, in 
which Knox, Lord Lindsay, and others, advised him to 
make himself strong with men of war, and assume the regency 
for life. 1 The cleverness of the squib deceived many, but it 
was a forgery, and Knox, from the pulpit, declared it to be 
so. But while opposing factions assailed and lampooned 
him, the great bulk of the nation, as they had experienced his 
virtues, lamented his loss. He is described as being of a com- 
manding presence, but possessed of a blunt open manner, 
which begot confidence. It was noted, however, that after he 
acquired the regency he became more haughty, and kept the 
nobles at a distance. It was probably policy more than pride 
that prompted him to do so. 

The death of Moray left the country without a governor, 
and for some months it was cruelly torn by the contending 
factions of the king and queen. The faction of the queen 
numbered most names among the nobility ; but the faction of 
the king had the support of the Church and the English 
Government. In the month of July the Earl of Lennox was 
raised to the regency on account of his near relationship to the 
infant king, but the queen's faction refused to acknowledge his 
authority, and as he was entirely destitute of the vigour of 
Moray, the country continued to be distracted by civil dissen- 
sions. These were industriously fomented by Elizabeth, whose 
constant policy it was to secure peace to herself by sowing 
troubles among her neighbours. 

Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange commanded the Castle of 
Edinburgh, and threw in his lot with the queen's party. The 
city lay at his mercy. It began to fill with the adherents of 
Mary. Knox's health was failing, but his courage was un- 
shaken, and from the pulpit he denounced Grange as a throat- 
cutter and murderer. His life was threatened in consequence. 
1 Bannatyne's Memoriales. 


When the Assembly met in March 1570, an anonymous paper 
was thrown in at the door, charging him with speaking of the 
queen as an idolater, adulteress, and murderer — treating her 
as a reprobate, and refusing to pray for her. Placards to the 
same effect were pasted on the door of the church. Knox 
boldly answered them, and vindicated his conduct without 
denying it. 1 On another occasion, a musket ball came crack- 
ling in at the window of his house at the Netherbow Port, where 
the thoughtful bailies had made " ane warme studye of dailies 
to the minister, John Knox, above the hall of the same, with 
lyght and windocks thereunto and all other necessaries. " 2 The 
place was getting too hot for him, and, by the advice of his 
friends, he retired to St Andrews. The Bishop of Galloway 
occupied his pulpit, and preached in a manner more pleasing 
to the queen's party. 3 

James Melville was at this time a student in St Leonard's 
College, and from his pen we have one of the most interest- 
ing sketches of the Reformer in this the last period of his life : 
— u Of all the benefits," says he, in his interesting, graphic 
style, " which I had that year was the coming of that most not- 
able prophet and apostle of our nation, Mr John Knox, to St 
Andrews, who, by the faction of the queen occupying the castle 
and town of Edinburgh, was compelled to remove therefrom 
with a number of the best, and chose to come to St Andrews. 
I heard him teach there the prophecy of Daniel that summer 
and the winter following. I had my pen and my little book, 
and took away such things as I could comprehend. In the 
opening up of his text he was moderate the space of half 
an hour, but when he entered to application, he made me so 
to grew and tremble that I could not hold a pen to write. . . . 
Mr Knox would sometimes come into our college-yard, and 
call us scholars unto him and bless us, and exhort us to know 
God and his work in our country, and stand by the good cause, 
to use our time well, and learn the good instructions, and fol- 
low the good example of our masters/ " I saw him every day 
of his doctrine," Melville again testifies, " go hulie and fiar, 
with a furring of martricks about his neck, a staff in the one 
hand, and good, godly Richard Bannatyne, his servant, hold- 
ing up the other ox far, from the abbey to the parish church, 
and by the said Richard and another servant lifted up to the 

1 Bannatyne's Memoriales. 

2 Act of Council. Laing's Pref. to Knox's Works, vol. vi. 

3 Bannatyne's Memoriales. 


pulpit, where he behoved to lean at his first entry, but ere he 
had done with his sermon he was so active and vigorous, that 
he was like to ding the pulpit in blads, and fly out of it." l No 
picture of the Reformer could be more perfect than this — it 
stands out before us like a stereoscopic view — we see him walk, 
we hear him speak. And it is all the more interesting, as it 
presents him to us old and worn out with his life-long work ; 
his hard battle against mass-saying priests and sacrilegious 

On the 7th of April 1571, John Hamilton, the last Roman 
Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews, was publicly hanged in 
his episcopal robes upon a gibbet at Stirling. After the battle 
of Langside he had been declared a traitor by the Earl of 
Moray, and after living for a time under the shelter of his 
powerful friends, he had sought refuge in the Castle of Dum- 
barton, which was held for the queen. When it was surprised 
and taken, he was brought to trial, accused of being privy to 
the murders of Darnley and Moray, condemned, hanged, 
quartered. He was a man able, indefatigable, and faithful to 
his Church, through good and bad report ; but like most of 
his compeers, he appears to have been utterly destitute of 

It was now becoming more and more evident that something 
must be done to give the Church a polity. The " First Book 
of Discipline " had never been sanctioned by the Legislature ; 
the Church had a nationally-received creed, but not a nation- 
ally-received government. The old Spiritual Estate still existed 
as one of the Estates of the realm. Its property had never 
been confiscated ; its voice in the parliament had never been 
denied. But the bishops and abbots were gradually dying out ; 
and to replace them by Protestant laymen was felt to be a false 
and anomalous proceeding. These bishops and abbots, thus 
dying without successors, were the acknowledged superiors of 
a large part of the land of the country, a considerable propor- 
tion of which was let in feu and heritage ; and now the feuars 
and heritable tenants could not get entry to their lands, for 
there was none to give it. To rectify this an act was passed 
in the parliament which met in August 1571, declaring that all 
such ecclesiastical feuars and tenants should henceforth hold 
their feus and possessions direct from the king. 2 It was an im- 

1 James Melville's Diary, Ban. Ed. 
-James VI., pari. ii. chap, xxxviii. 


portant measure, and in some respects amounted to a confisca- 
tion of a great part of the Church property of the kingdom. 

But much land and tithes were still undisposed of, and who 
was to get these ? The Protestant Church earnestly and im- 
portunately claimed them, but the men in power had destined 
the most of them for themselves. There was a perfect scramble 
for abbacies, priories, and bishoprics ; and the lawless state of 
the country made the work rapid and easy. Either faction 
required to purchase partisans, and there was no price they 
could so conveniently offer as a benefice. Mary bestowed 
upon Grange the Priory of St Andrews. " Brother William," 
wrote Randolph to him, in a bantering letter, " it was indeed 
most wonderful unto me, when I heard that you should become 
a prior. That vocation agreeth not with anything that ever I 
knew in you, saving for your religious life led under the 
cardinal's hat, when we were both students in Paris." 1 The 
Earl of Glencairn had set his heart upon the Archbishopric of 
Glasgow, and sulkily refused to take any part in a parliament 
because it was refused him. 2 The defection of the Earl of 
Argyll from the party of the queen to that of the king was 
ascribed to an ecclesiastical bribe. " The greedy and in- 
satiable appetite of benefices," says the author of the " Diurnal 
of Occurrents," " was the most cause thereof, for in his time 
there was none brought under the king's obedience but for 
reward either given or promised." 3 The Archbishop of St 
Andrews was scarcely cut down from his gallows, when the 
Earl of Morton got a gift of his archbishopric from the 
Regent Lennox. 

But under what plea and by what tenure were these bishop- 
rics, abbacies, and priories to be held ? The nobles who got 
them did not contemplate becoming ecclesiastics. They 
scarcely dared to contemplate the sudden secularization of so 
much ecclesiastical property. The nation was not prepared 
for it. The Church would vehemently resist it; and the 
Church had already shown itself strong enough to pull down 
and set up rulers. Besides, was it politic, was it wise, to allow 
the Spiritual Estate — the first estate in the realm — to come to 
nought ? Were none but barons and burgesses henceforward 
to sit in parliament ? Was the old balance of the constitution 
to be destroyed ? Would the throne be safe, would the aris- 

1 Letter, Randolph to the Laird of Grange, 1st May 1570. State-Paper 
Office. Quoted by Tytler, Hist., vol. vii. 

2 Diurnal of Occurrents, 13th October 1570. 3 Ibid. 1571. 

A.D. 1572.] CONCORDAT OF LEITH. 341 

tocracy be safe, in presence of the rising power of the burghs, 
without the aid of the clergy? Moreover, how was the original 
framework of the College of Justice to be maintained ? where 
were its eight ecclesiastical senators to come from, seeing the 
Church had debarred its superintendents and ministers from 
acting as judges? P>en laying aside the constitution of the 
court, was not the ecclesiastical body the one most fitted to 
supply able lawyers, from the superior training of its members? 
Could no plan be formed by which the Spiritual Estate might 
be preserved, the Court of Session supplied with judges, and 
a portion at least of the Church's revenues pocketed by the 
patrons? These thoughts must have passed through many 
minds at the period we speak of. In a little we may be able 
to trace the result. 

On the 1 2th of January 1572, a Convention of 
the Church assembled at Leith. By whom it 
was convened is unknown. It was not a regular Assembly, 
but it assumed to itself " the strength, force, and effect of a 
General Assembly," and it was attended by " the superinten- 
dents, barons, commissioners to plant kirks, commissioners of 
provinces, towns, kirks, and ministers." 1 At its third session, 
and on the fifteenth day of the month, it appointed a com- 
mittee to meet with a committee of the Privy Council, and 
confer upon matters affecting the Church. On the very next 
day the Privy Council appointed a corresponding committee 
to meet and confer with the Commissioners of the Church, upon 
the matters entrusted to them." These two committees em- 
braced the leading men of the Church and State, and repre- 
sented very fairly every party and every sentiment \ but it is 
impossible to believe that the Convention and Privy Council 
would have worked with such perfect harmony, unless the 
whole proceedings had been previously arranged. 

By the 1st of February the joint committees framed a 
concordat, of which the following articles were the chief : — 

1. That the names of archbishops and bishops, and the 
bounds of dioceses, should remain as they were before the 
Reformation, at least till the majority of the king, or till a 
different arrangement should be made by the parliament ; and 
that to every cathedral church there should be attached a 
chapter of learned men ; but that the bishops should have no 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, January 1572. 

- CalderwoocTs History. Spottiswood's History. 


more power than was possessed by the superintendents, and 
should like them be subject to the General Assemblies. 

2. That abbots and priors should be continued as parts of 
the Spiritual Estate of the realm \ that before they were 
admitted they should be examined by the Church, and care 
taken that from the benefices within their bounds enough was 
secured for the adequate maintenance of the ministers ; but 
that being admitted, they might be promoted to act as senators 
of the College of Justice. 

3. That qualified ministers should be placed in every part 
of the country ; that livings under the yearly value of ^40 
should be conferred upon readers, and those of greater value 
upon ministers capable of dispensing the sacraments ; that no 
pluralities should be allowed, every minister constrained to 
reside within his parish, and required at his admission to sign 
the Confession of Faith, and take an oath of allegiance to the 

4. That all provostries, prebends, collegiate churches, and 
chaplainries should be bestowed by their respective patrons 
upon bursars or students in grammar, arts, theology, law, or 
medicine. 1 

Such was the famous concordat agreed upon by the Church 
and State in Scotland in 1572. The regent instantly approved 
of it ; but it remained to be seen whether the General Assem- 
bly would give its sanction to the proceedings of its commis- 
sioners. The Earl of Morton did not wait till the General 
Assembly would meet, but at once took action upon the terms 
of the concordat. He had obtained a gift of the Archbishopric 
of St Andrews ; he presented to it John Douglas, Rector of 
the University. A chapter was held, and Douglas gave proof 
of his ability to preach. The day for his admission was fixed, 
and John Knox preached the sermon, but believing there had 
been a Simoniacal paction between the patron and presentee, 
he denounced an anathema upon both. John Winram read 
the forms, and asked the questions used in the admission of 
superintendents ; and thereafter the Bishop of Orkney, the 
Superintendent of Lothian, and David Lindsay laid their hands 
upon Douglas, and embraced him in sign of admission. 2 The 
Church of Scotland had once more an archbishop. 

The work being begun went briskly on. James Boyd was 
appointed to the Archiepiscopal See of Glasgow, Andrew Paton 

1 Calderwood's History. Spottiswood's History. 

2 Calderwood's History, 1572. 

A.D. 1572.] TULCHAN BISHOPS. 343 

to Dunkeld, Andrew Graham x to Dunblane, George Douglas 
to Moray. The episcopal bench was now once more nearly 
full ; for Gordon was already Bishop of Galloway, Bothwell of 
Orkney, Campbell of Brechin, Stuart of Caithness, Hamilton 
of Argyle, Carswell of the Isles. It was more than suspected 
that these men — at least those of them who had recently 
received their investiture — had consented to enjoy the episco- 
pal titles, with but a small part of the episcopal revenues. 
They were the creatures of the lordly patrons. " There be 
three kinds of bishops," said Adamson, with severe irony, 2 
" My Lord Bishop, My Lord's Bishop, and the Lord's Bishop. 
My Lord Bishop was in the Papistry ; My Lord's Bishop is 
now, when my lord gets the fat of the benefice, and the bishop 
makes his title sure ; the Lord's Bishop is the true minister of 
the gospel." 3 The people, too, must have their jest. It was once 
the custom in Scotland to set up a stuffed calf s skin before 
cows when being milked, under the belief that the milk was 
made thereby to flow more freely into the pail of the dairy- 
maid. This stuffed calf was called a tulchan. The coarse 
humour of the nation found vent in nick-naming the new race 
of prelates " tulchan-bishops," as they were thought no better 
than stuffed calves, set up to make the benefice yield its 
revenues to their lord. 4 

The General Assembly met at St Andrews on the 6th of 
March, but there is no record of its having done anything in 
regard to the Convention at Leith. It again met, however, at 
Perth on the 6th of August, and the following minute was put 
upon the register with reference to the concordat : — " In it 
are found certain names, such as archbishop, bishop, dean, 
archdean, chamber, chapter, which names were thought 
slanderous and offensive to the ears of many of the brethren, 
appearing to sound of Papistry ; therefore the whole Assembly 
in one voice, as well they that were in commission at Leith as 
others, solemnly protest that they intend not by using such 
names to ratify, consent, and agree to any kind of Papistry or 
superstition, and wish rather the same names may be changed 

1 Graham was a layman when he was all at once made a bishop ; but so 
was St Ambrose. 

2 Adamson is thought to have had his wit sharpened by disappointment. 
He afterwards got promotion to an archbishopric, and then he changed his 
way of speaking. 

3 James Melville's Diary. 

4 Calderwood's History. James Melville's Diary. 


to others that are not slanderous and offensive, and, in like 
manner, protest that the said heads and articles agreed upon 
be only received as an interim, until farther and more perfect 
order be obtained at the hands of the king's majesty's regent 
and nobility, for the which they will press as occasion shall 
serve ; unto the which protestation the whole Assembly in one 
voice adheres." 1 

The whole Church, in General Assembly convened, thus 
gave its consent to the concordat of Leith ; but it was a reluc- 
tant consent, and accompanied by a protest that the arrange- 
ment was not exactly such as they would have wished, and 
that even while submitting to it, they would regard it as merely 
temporary, and use every effort to secure a better. It is sur- 
prising, however, to find the Church which had approved of 
the " First Book of Discipline," and banished bishops from its 
policy for twelve years, giving even such a conditional sanc- 
tion as this to a concordat which reintroduced the whole 
machinery of the Papacy. It was plainly a compromise — an 
expediency measure — agreed to in the hope that good would 
result from it. Things were still in a chaotic state, and pure 
Presbyterianism was an after-growth. 

The Church had in vain attempted to get its favourite 
policy ratified by parliament. It had in vain struggled to get 
possession of its patrimony. In had in vain argued that the 
bishoprics and abbacies should be dissolved, and their revenues 
applied for the maintenance of the ministry, the education of 
the youthhead, and the support of the poor. The bishoprics 
and abbacies w r ere maintained as if they were indissoluble. 
Some of them were already bestowed upon laymen, and the 
ministers of the Protestant Church were poorly paid out of 
the thirds of benefices. The collection of these even the 
regent had recently stopped, 2 and beggary was at the door. 
What was to be done? The only way of obtaining the 
episcopal revenues was by reintroducing the episcopal office. 
None but a bishop could hold a bishopric, so had the 
law ordained. The law could not be safely abrogated; the 
balance of the constitution could not be safely destroyed ; 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, August 1572. 

2 The avaricious Morton had persuaded the clergy, that if they would 
allow him to collect the thirds, he would arrange to have every minister's 
stipend paid out of the teinds of the parish where he served. They soon 
discovered that they were worse off than ever, and clamoured for a return 
to the system established by Moray. (Calderwood's History. Book of 
the Universal Kirk, &c, &c.) 


the First Estate in the realm could not be suffered to perish. 1 
These arguments were no doubt pressed again and again upon 
the ministers, by men whose influence would give weight to 
their logic. The ministers regarded archbishops, bishops, 
cleans, and chapters as things lawful, but not expedient — 
" they sounded of papistry f but now, under the pressure of a 
still stronger expediency, they received them into the Church. 
That the Church did sanction the proceedings of the Conven- 
tion at Leith, and succumb to a species of episcopacy, it were 
idle to deny. In the sederunts of the Assemblies hencefor- 
ward, the bishops are mentioned immediately before the 
superintendents ; by the Assembly of August 1574, the regent 
was petitioned to provide qualified persons to vacant bishop- 
rics; and in the Assembly of March 1575, the Bishop of Glas- 
gow was raised to the moderator's chair. 2 But it was not 
always, nor even often, that bishops enjoyed this dignity; on 
the contrary, we frequently find them hauled before the court 
for negligence in the discharge of their duties, and altogether 
they were never greatly honoured in the Church. 

Knox yielded to the same necessity under which the Church 
had bowed. Preferring the Presbyterian polity which he had 
seen at Geneva to the Prelatic under which he had ministered 
in England, he had yet never held diocesan episcopacy to 
be anti-Christian. Anxious above all things to secure the 
Church's patrimony, he was ready to submit to anything but a 
surrender of principle to encompass his heart's desire. He 
submitted to the introduction of episcopacy. Too frail to be 
present at the Assembly of August 1572, he sent certain 
articles for its consideration ; he recommended the Church to 
petition the regent that all vacant bishoprics should be filled 
up by properly-qualified persons within a year after they had 
become vacant, " according to the order taken in Leith by 
the Commissioners of the Nobility and of the Kirk, in the 
month of January last," and that a complaint should be 
made as to the giving of the Bishopric of Ross to the 
Lord Methven, a mere layman. He farther recommended 
that " an act should be made decerning and ordaining all 

1 Melville confessed that many of the nobles were against his policy, 
just because it implied the destruction of the Spiritual Estate ; and we find 
King James frequently asking the Assembly what was to become of this 
Estate if the bishops were abolished. He dreaded such a change in the 
constitution. (Book of the Universal Kirk.) 

2 Book of the Universal Kirk. 


bishops admitted to the order of the Kirk now received 
to give account of their whole rents and intromissions there- 
with once a year, as the Kirk shall appoint, for such causes as 
the Kirk may easily consider the same to be most expedient 
and necessary." 1 

If Knox agreed to recognise episcopacy in order to secure 
the episcopal revenues, he knew there was a danger of being 
cheated by Simonists. There were whispers abroad of pac- 
tions being made between patrons and presentees — the lords 
who held the bishoprics, and their creatures who were to 
get them. He sounded a note of alarm. He wrote to the 
Assembly which met at Stirling in 157 1 : " Unfaithful and 
traitors to the flock shall ye be before the Lord Jesus if that 
with your consent, directly or indirectly, ye suffer unworthy 
men to be thrust into the ministry of the Church, under 
what pretence that ever it be. Remember the Judge before 
whom you must make account, and resist that tyranny as ye 
would hell-fire. This battle, I grant, will be hard, but in 
the second point it will be harder ; that is, that with the like 
uprightness and strength in God, ye withstand the merciless 
devourers of the patrimony of the Church. If men will spoil, 
let them do it to their own peril and condemnation; but 
communicate you not with their sins, of what state soever 
they be." 2 He preached, as we have already seen, before 
the inauguration of Douglas, but he is said to have denounced 
both the giver and receiver; 3 and when he recommends 
the Assembly to compel bishops to give to the Church an 
account of their intromissions with the revenues of their Sees, 
it was most probably to prevent them from being paid away as 
the price of the presentation. 4 In all this there was honesty 
and wisdom. 

It was a mongrel prelacy that was thus introduced into 
Scotland — a cross betwixt Popery and Presbytery. It was not 
of the true Roman breed. It was not even of the Anglican. 
It could not pretend to the apostolical descent. The lordly 
archbishop must sit in the Assemby as an humble member, 
while the humble minister presided as moderator, and must 
be ready at all times to give an account of his conduct, it 

1 This letter is given in Calderwood's History ; it is also copied in the 
Appendix to Robertson's History. 

2 Book of the Universal Kirk, 1 57 1 . 
8 Calderwood's Hist., 1572. 

4 Articles to Assembly of August 1573, above referred to, given in Cal- 
derwood and Robertson's Histories. 

A.D. 1572.] DEATH OF KNOX. 347 

might be to have his episcopal pride brought low by the 
rebukes of a presbyter. But the most marvellous thing is that 
the abbot was to be resuscitated as well as the bishop ; and 
though he might not be allowed to minister in the churches, 
he might win his bread by sitting on the judicial bench. 
Abbesses would probably have been revived too had they 
formed a part of any estate, or had it been possible to find 
any work for them to do. But they could be turned to no 
account, and therefore were allowed to perish. When Dame 
Christian Ballenden, Prioress of the " Priorissie of the Senis, 
besyde the burrowmure of Edinburgh/' departed this life, the 
Earl of Morton, " understanding that in the Convention of 
the States of the realm consideration was had that nunneries 
are not meet to be conferred and given to women, according 
to the first foundation in the tyme of ignorance .... 
appoints Captain Ninian Cockburn his highness's chamberlain 
and factor to the said Priorissie of the Senis.'' * So the captain 
succeeded to the prioress, and the order became extinct. 

On the 24th of November 1572, John Knox, the Scottish 
Reformer, rested from his labours. His spirit was vigorous 
to the last, but his body was worn out with worry and toil. 
He did not die too soon. His work was done ; the sore battle 
was fought ; the land was purged of idols. Standing by his 
open grave, the Earl of Morton, now regent, pronounced his 
brief but true eulogium — " There lies one who neither feared 
nor flattered flesh." 2 

His character is not difficult to understand, it flashes 
strongly out in almost every act of his life. A man of 
strong convictions, of fearless courage, and a sanguine tem- 
perament, he had no toleration for the opinions of others 
if they were different from his own. Though he must have 
had his own struggle before he threw off the religion of his 
childhood, he had no sympathy with those who could not 
change their faith, and curse everything they had formerly 
revered. In some respects he was more a politician than a 
theologian, and worked quite as much for the liberty of his 
country as for the Reformation of his Church. The greatest 
statesmen of the day on both sides of the border recognised 
his ability, and the Protestant, selfish Elizabeth hated and 

1 Register of Privy Seal, quoted in a note to M'Crie's Life of Melville. 

- James Melville's Diary. Calderwood's version is — " Here lieth a 
man who in his life never feared the face of a man ; who hath been often 
threatened with dag and dagger, but yet hath ended his days in peace and 


feared him almost as much as the Popish finessing Mary. 
Though never ambitious of being more than an Edinburgh 
minister — perhaps because he knew that in no other position 
could he be more powerful — he was the associate and adviser 
of the greatest nobles m the kingdom. The influence of his 
eloquence is well hit off in a letter from Randolph to Cecil. 
"The voice of that one man," said he, "is able to put more 
life in us in one hour than five hundred trumpets blustering 
in our ears." He appears to have been of small and fragile 
make. "I know not," says Calderwood, " if ever God placed 
in a frail and weak little body a more godly and greater spirit." 1 
He is described as fond of trinkets and dress. It is certain 
he writes, and he is said to have spoken, the English rather 
than the Scotch of his time, but it is difficult to believe it was 
from any affectation of the southron tongue. His " History of 
the Reformation " is one of the most graphic racy books in any 
language, and without reading it it is impossible to understand 
either the man or the scenes amid which he lived. Its broad 
humour, its rollicking fun, its relish for the ludicrous, mingle 
strangely with its fierce dogmatism and bitter hatred, and show 
of how many opposite elements the Reformer was made. 
Though a virulent enemy of Popery, he was really a broad 
Churchman; he preached his evangel as readily in England 
as in Scotland, and his sons went to Cambridge to be educated 
as ministers of the English Church. It is pleasant to find at 
the end of a life during which the harder features of his 
character were most displayed a touch of true genial humour. 
When lying on his death-bed, and drawing near to his end, he 
was visited by two friends, whom he bid stay to dinner, and 
insisted upon tapping a hogshead of wine in his cellar, and 
while they were drinking their glass, he pressed them to send 
for some more, as he did not expect to live till it was done. 2 

The Regent Lennox had been killed in a sudden encounter 
at Stirling. Mar had succeeded him, but death soon deprived 

1 Hist., vol. iii. p. 238. 

2 We are fortunate in having what may be regarded as an authentic 
likeness of the Reformer in the I cones of Beza, engraved in wood, from 
a portrait by Vaensoun, sent to Geneva by King James. We have, per- 
haps, a still better representation of the man in the engraving by Hondius, 
evidently from the same original, though somewhat changed. There is 
the powerful head well placed on the shoulders, the thoughtful eye ready 
to kindle into flame, the firm set mouth, the flowing beard. Carlyle, 
indeed, denounces the Beza portrait as no better than a boiled figure- 
head, and not the image of a man who could do and dare what Knox had 


him of his honours, and now Morton, the fourth regent within 
six years, was at the head of affairs ; but still the country lay 
bleeding with civil wounds. The Castle of Edinburgh, beet- 
ling on the top of its lofty crag, was held by the Lairds of 
Grange and Lethington for the queen ; and the miserable city 
at its base was exposed equally to the guns of the fortress and 
the fury of its assailants. At length a battering-train from 
England compelled a surrender, and Kirkaldy and Maitland 
were at the mercy of Morton. Kirkaldy was hanged at the 
market-cross of Edinburgh. Maitland suddenly died before 
his doom was known ; but it was said that he anticipated it 
by swallowing poison in his prison. 

Kirkaldy was probably the ablest soldier, and Maitland the 
ablest statesman of his day. Either had played an important 
part in accomplishing the Reformation. When Kirkaldy was 
hanging on the gibbet, the Protestants thought of a prediction 
of Knox, that this would be his end for taking part with the 
queen; the Papists remembered that he had begun his career 
by the slaughter of a cardinal. Maitland was much the greater 
man of the two, and had played a greater part. His life had 
been full of change. We first find him in the company of the 
Reformers, but advocating an outward compliance with the 
rites of Rome. We next find him in the service of the queen 
regent, and only deserting to the Congregation when her 
cause was hopeless. In the parliament of 1560, which estab- 
lished the Reformation, his abilities and zeal raised him to 
the speakership. When Queen Mary sought her native country, 
he attached himself heart and soul to her interest, and slighted 
the parliament in which he had played so conspicuous a part. 
He shared with Moray the duties of government ; and, while 
thus employed, Randolph, the English resident, describes 
" the Lord James as dealing, according to his nature, rudely, 
homely, bluntly; the Laird of Lethington more delicately and 
finely, yet nothing swerving from the other in mind and 
effect." 1 His great ambition at that time was the union of the 

dared and done, and prefers the altogether unauthentic Somerville por- 
trait ; but Wilkie has shown how the face and figure, in repose in Vaen- 
soun's portrait, could be thrown into action, and kindled into fire, in 
his great picture of Knox preaching before the Lords of the Congrega- 
tion. See an interesting paper on Scottish Historical Portraits in the Pro- 
ceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, vol. xi. part i. ; also Carlyle's Essay 
on the Portraits of Knox. Dr Laing gave Wilkie the loan of Hondius' 
portrait to be used in his historical picture. 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 24th October, 1561. Keith. 


kingdoms. But Maitland's brain was unfortunately fertile of 
plots. He was in the conspiracy to murder Rizzio ; in the 
conspiracy to murder the king. When the nobles rose to 
avenge the murder of the king, Maitland, though himself one 
of the chief of the assassins, joined them, and he was too able a 
man to be put away. When Moray received the regency, for 
a time Lethington was his principal adviser, but his heart 
appears to have been with the exiled Mary, and he began to 
plot for her return. Apprehended, and about to be brought 
to trial for his part in the Darnley conspiracy, Kirkaldy, by a 
stratagem, had him conveyed to the castle, where, during a 
long siege, his statesman-like diplomacy seconded the courage 
and skill of the military knight. Though the character of 
neither is defensible, we cannot but admire their abilities, and 
pity their fate. 

In the summer of 1574, Andrew Melville, a man destined 
to play an important part in the history of the Church, 
returned to his native country, after an absence of ten years. 
These ten years he had spent at the most celebrated seats of 
learning on the Continent. He had studied both at Paris and 
at Poictiers. Driven from France by the civil wars, he turned 
his eyes toward Geneva, at that period the chosen asylum of 
civil and religious liberty. He travelled all the long way upon 
foot, as he had previously done from Dieppe to Paris, and 
from Paris to Poictiers. His scholarship almost immediately 
secured for him the vacant Professorship of Humanity in the 
Academy, and admittance to the literary society in the town. 
It was a marvellous society that had congregated in this little 
republican city, cradled among the everlasting hills, and shut 
out from the rest of the world ; men who had fled from every 
country of Europe, that they might breathe a freer atmosphere. 
Calvin was no more ; but Theodore Beza occupied his place, 
and almost rivalled his renown. Scaliger came with the 
refugees who escaped through the passes of the Jura, after 
the horror of St Bartholomew's Day. One hundred and 
twenty French ministers are said to have been all at one time 
in the town. 1 As they spoke one to another of the wrongs 
they had suffered, the perils they had escaped, the friends 
they had seen butchered before their eyes, can we wonder 
that there was generated beneath the broad shadows of the 
Alps a deep hatred of despotism and Popery, and a fervent 
love of liberty. In this school Andrew Melville was nursed — 
1 M 'die's Life of Melville, vol. i. 


35 l 

with these men he held converse ; he was the personal friend 
of the most distinguished amongst them ; and when he re- 
turned to Scotland, he was already a well-known and cele- 
brated man. The Universities of St Andrews and Glasgow- 
competed for his services ; he chose the latter, and, as its 
Principal, soon laid among the ruins of the ancient school the 
foundations of its future fame. 1 

Episcopacy had now existed in Scotland for about three 
years, but it had not got on well. The old tree taken up by 
the roots and planted again did not seem to thrive ; its fibres 
had been mangled and curtailed, and it did not take with the 
soil, now too poor for its proper luxuriance of growth. The 
Church had already appointed a committee to draw up a new 
scheme of policy, but it was uncertain what they might 
recommend, when John Durie, one of the ministers of Edin- 
burgh, sounded the first note of war against Episcopacy. In 
the Assembly of August 1575, when the court was about to 
proceed to the trial of the bishops, he protested that this 
would not prejudge the objections which he and others enter- 
tained to the name and office of a bishop. 2 At a subsequent 
session of the same Assembly, the question was proposed — 
Whether bishops, as they are now in Scotland, have their 
function in the Word of God, and whether the chapters 
appointed for creating them should be tolerated in this 
Reformed Church? Melville rose and delivered his senti- 
ments in a speech which produced a powerful impression 
upon the Assembly. 3 His accurate acquaintance with the 
language of the New Testament ; his intimacy with Beza, who 
was regarded as an oracle in Scotland ; his Genevan experi- 
ences ; besides his native powers of debate, must have made 
him be listened to with respect. The consequence was, that 
a committee of six persons was appointed, three to argue the 
one side, and three to maintain the other, as was the practice 
at that time in Scotland; and to report the conclusion to 
which they might come to a future diet of the Assembly. 
John Craig, James Lawson, and Andrew Melville, were to 
impugn Episcopacy ; George Hay, John Row, and David 
Lindsay to defend it. 4 

1 James Melville's Diary. M'Crie's Life of Melville. 
-' Book of the Universal Kirk, August 1575. 
:; Spottiswood's History, lib. vi. Melville's Diary. 
4 This appears to have been copied from the old scholastic method of 
defending and impugning a given thesis. 


At the sixth session the committee gave in their report in 
writing. They declared that it was their unanimous opinion, 
that the name " bishop " rightly belonged to every minister who 
had the charge of a flock ; but that out of these some might be 
chosen to oversee such reasonable districts as might be 
assigned them beside their own congregations, to appoint 
ministers, elders, and deacons in destitute places, and to 
administer discipline, with the consent of the clergy and 
people. 1 The Assembly approved of the report, and ordained 
that farther inquiry should be made in regard to that and other 
matters affecting the policy and discipline of the Church. 2 
When the Assembly again met in April 1576, the subject was 
resumed, and the same conclusions were arrived at ; and in the 
way of following them up, the bishops, who had not yet received 
any charge, were required by the morrow to condescend upon 
the congregations which they would take under their pastoral 
care. 3 

In 1578 the Assembly proceeded a step farther. It declared 
that bishops should henceforward be called simply by their own 
names, and not by any titles of honour ; and debarred cathe- 
dral chapters from proceeding to any election before its next 
meeting. The next Assembly made this order perpetual. But 
it was not till 1580 that the last stone of the Episcopal fabric 
was thrown down. In that year " the whole Assembly of the 
Kirk, in one voice, found and declared the pretended office of 
a bishop to be unlawful, having neither foundation nor warrant 
in the Word of God, and ordained all such persons as brooked 
the said office to demit the same, as an office to w r hich they 
were not called by God, and to cease from preaching the 
Word, or administering the sacraments, till they should be 
admitted anew by the General Assembly, under pain of ex- 
communication. " To carry out this sweeping resolution, 
synodal assemblies were appointed to be held in the different 
dioceses to receive the submission of the bishops, and in case 
of contumacy, to report them to the next Assembly, that they 
might be put under the bann of the Church. 4 So energetic 
were their measures that before the next Assembly all the 
bishops, except five, had sent in their submissions. 

The Church had not been able to carry these measures with- 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, August 1575. 

2 James Melville's Diary. 

:{ Book of the Universal Kirk, April 1576. 
4 Book of the Universal Kirk, 1578, 1580. 

A.I). 1578-9.] MORTON AND MELVILLE. 353 

out opposition. When the Archbishop of Glasgow was re- 
quired to take upon him the charge of a congregation, he 
pleaded that he had accepted his bishopric according to the 
terms of the concordat of Leith ; that when he was admitted 
to it he had taken an oath to the king, and that if he now con- 
sented to any changes he might incur the guilt of perjury ; 
that, nevertheless, when residing in Glasgow he would preach 
there, and when residing in Ayr he would also preach there, 
in any church which the brethren might agree upon ; but he 
protested that this must not be understood as interfering with 
his jurisdiction as bishop of the diocese. The Assembly was 
obliged to content itself with this. 1 Upon the death of 
Douglas, Adamson abandoned the Presbyterian cause, and 
received the presentation to the Archbishopric of St Andrews 
from the regent. He was instantly brought before the 
Assembly, but he managed to temporise. The Assembly pro- 
hibited the chapter from proceeding to his admission ; the 
regent ordered it to proceed ; and proceed it did. The 
Assembly appointed a commission to summon Adamson before 
them, and inquire into the case, but it is probable they felt 
themselves without power to proceed farther, as we do not hear 
any more of the matter. 

As the Regent Morton had been the chief deviser of the 
tulchan Episcopacy, he was naturally annoyed at the attempts 
of the Church to overturn it. He was frequently pressed to 
be present at the Assemblies, but he steadily refused, and 
attempted to intimidate its leaders by threatening to hang 
some of them, as an example to the rest. 2 Failing to gain 
Melville by bribes, he bitterly upbraided him for disturbing 
the peace of the country by his over-sea dreams and Genevese 
discipline. " There never will be quietness in this country," 
said he fiercely, " till half a dozen of you be hanged or 
banished." " Tush ! " said Melville, who had now become 
Principal of St Mary's College, St Andrews; " threaten your 
courtiers in that way; it is all the same to me whether I rot in 
the air or the ground. The earth is the Lord's : my fatherland 
is wherever well-doing is. I have been ready to give my life, 
where it would not have been half so well spent, at the 
pleasure of my God. I lived out of your country ten years as 
well as in it. Let God be glorified ; it is out of your power 
to hang or exile His truth." 3 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk. 
- Melville's Diary, pp. 46, 47, Ban. Ed. 
3 Melville's Diary, pp. 52, 53. 


On the 1 2th of March 1578, the Earl of Morton, finding 
that his regency had become unpopular, and that it was no 
longer safe to hold it, resigned it ; and the king, a boy twelve 
years of age, nominally assumed the government. For a little 
while, Morton had no influence at court ; but in less than a 
year he was again in power, not as regent, but as the adviser 
of the boy-king. His influence is apparent in a letter which 
James directed to the Assembly in July 1579, counselling them 
to make no innovations in the government of the Church dur- 
ing his minority ; but the Assembly paid no attention to the 
advice, and proceeded in their course. 1 In 1580 the triumph 
of Presbytery was almost complete : Episcopacy had been con- 
demned; the bishops had bowed their heads before the 
victorious presbyters ; but they had bowed them only as the 
bulrush bows its head under the wave, to lift it up again when 
it has rolled past. 

This ecclesiastical revolution, accomplished by the Church 
courts in opposition to the wishes of the government, is, in a 
great measure, to be attributed to the energy and ability of 
Andrew Melville. He was more learned than his brethren, 
and had the power which knowledge gives. It is probable 
there were not ten ministers in the Assembly at this period who 
could read the New Testament in the original tongue ; 2 but 
Melville was well versed both in Hebrew and Grecian liter- 
ature, and could prove that, in apostolic times, the bishop and 
presbyter was one and the same. He received material aid, 
however, from Theodore Beza. The Earl of Glammis had 
written to this theological dictator, requesting his opinion upon 
some of the points which were then so fiercely controverted in 

1 Calderwood's History, 1579. 

2 "J wa ld haiff glaidlie bein at the Greik and Hebrew toungs, becauss 
I red in our byble that it was translated out of Hebrew and Greik ; but 
the langages were nocht to be gottine in the land. Our Regent begoud 
and teatched us the A,B,C of the Greik, and the simple declinationes, but 
went no farther. Be that occasion he tauld me of my uncle, Mr Andro 
Melville, whom he knew in the tyme of his course in the New Collage, to 
use the Greik logicks of Aristotle, the quhilk was a wonder to them that 
he was sa fyne a schollar, and of sic expectation." "Within the Univer- 
sity of St Andros, all that was teatched of Aristotle he lerned and studeit 
out of the Greik text, quhilk his maisters understood nocht." (Melville's 
Diary, pp. 24, 31.) In March 1575, the Assembly resolved, for the first 
time, that Latin was a necessary qualification for the ministry. (Book of 
Universal Kirk.) Row, in his notice of Patrick Simpson, at the end of 
his History, remarks, that in those days it was a proverb, "Grcxcum est, 
non legitur." (History, &c, Coronis, p. 422.) 


Scotland. Beza, in answer, published his book " De Triplici 
Episcopatu " — the divine, human, and Satanic. In this treatise 
he argues that, unless human Episcopacy be pulled up clean by 
the roots, it will sprout, and bring forth again, as it had done 
before, a Satanic Episcopacy. 1 The book was brought over 
to this country, translated into English, and had some influence 
upon the contest. 

The Church, in 1580, reverted to the policy of 1560. It 
went farther. Knox held Episcopacy to be lawful, but not 
convenient, — an allowable form of government, but not the 
purest or the best. Melville held Episcopacy to be unlawful 
— opposed to Scripture — allowable in no circumstances. Even 
the superintendents began to be regarded with suspicion ; and 
preparation was made for the abolition of the order, and the 
establishment of a perfect parity among all the ministers of the 
Church. The course which the Church had pursued was a 
self-denying one. Almost every act of Assembly was a self- 
denying ordinance. They were offered bishoprics, and they 
refused them \ titles of honour, and they refused them ; seats 
in the parliament as the highest Estate, and seats on the 
bench as the supreme tribunal, and they refused them. They 
would be nothing but ministers, with little honour and less pay. 

For several years a committee of the Church had been 
employed in framing a new policy. Many meetings were held, 
much labour was bestowed, and an ecclesiastical system 
elaborated, now known as the "Second Book of Discipline." 
Conferences had also been held with the Privy Council, with 
the regent, and with the king, to get the consent of the State 
to the proposed government of the Church \ but that consent 
had hitherto been withheld. In a conference at Stirling, be- 
tween a committee of the parliament and the Commissioners 
of the Church, the treatise was gone over article by article ; 
some were marked as agreed to, others as referred to farther 
reasoning, others as passed over; and more than this the 
Assembly could not obtain. 2 But now, when the Episcopal 
polity was destroyed, it was necessary that another should be 
substituted in its place ; and therefore the Assembly which 
met in April 1581 resolved that " the Book of Policy agreed 
upon in diverse Assemblies before should be registered in the 
acts of the Kirk, and remain therein, ad perpetuam rci memo- 

1 Calderwood's History. 

2 Spottiswood's History, lib. vi. 


ridtfty and that a copy thereof should be taken by every pres- 
bytery/' 1 

It is necessary to give a sketch of this celebrated treatise. 
In the first chapter the Church is denned, and the civil and 
ecclesiastical jurisdictions discriminated. The Church, it is 
said, may mean all who profess the gospel ; or, all who are 
truly godly ; or, those who exercise spiritual functions. The 
ecclesiastical and civil power both flow from God, but cannot 
in general be exercised by the same person. " The magis- 
trate ought neither to preach, minister the .sacraments, nor 
execute the censures of the Church, nor yet prescribe any rule 
how it should be done, but command the minister to observe 
the rule prescribed in the Word, and punish transgressors by 
civil means ; the minister, again, exercises not the civil juris- 
diction, but teaches the magistrate how it should be exercised 
according to the Word." The second chapter is occupied 
with the office-bearers of the Church. Ecclesiastical functions 
are divided into ordinary and extraordinary. " There are four 
ordinary offices or functions in the Church of God — the pastor, 
minister, or bishop ; the doctor ; the presbyter or elder ; and 
the deacon. These, we are told, ought to remain perpetually 
in the Church, as necessary to its government. The third 
chapter prescribes the manner in which persons were to be ad- 
mitted to ecclesiastical functions. Calling, it is said, consists 
of two parts, election and ordination. " Election is the choos- 
ing out of one man or person to the office that is void, by the 
judgment of the eldership and consent of the congregation. " 
" Ordination is the separation and sanctifying of the person 
appointed by God and His Church, after that he is well tried 
and found qualified." " The ceremonies of ordination are 
fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands of the eldership." In 
the fourth chapter, the office and duty of the pastor are 
defined. Pastor, minister, bishop, are declared to be but 
different names for the same office. To the pastor it belongs 
to preach the Word, administer the sacraments, solemnize 
marriage, and pronounce the denunciations and blessings of 
the Church. The fifth chapter relates to doctors and schools. 
" The office of the doctor is to open up the mind of the Spirit 
of God in the Scriptures simply, without such application as 
the minister uses." " Under the name and office of doctor is 
also comprehended the order in schools, colleges, and uni- 
versities." If the doctor be an elder, he is to assist in the 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, April 1581. 


government of the Church ; but he is not to preach or ad- 
minister the sacraments. The sixth chapter is of elders and 
their office. Elder in Scripture sometimes signifies all who 
hold office in the Church ; but here we are told it is used in 
a more restricted signification, to denominate those who are 
to assist the pastors in the government of the flock. " As the 
pastors and doctors should be diligent in teaching and sowing 
the seed of the Word, so the elders should be careful in 
seeking the fruits of the same among the people." " Their 
principal office is to hold assemblies with the pastors and 
doctors, who are also of their number, for establishing good 
order and execution of discipline." 

The seventh chapter is an important one, and refers to the 
assemblies of the Church. " Assemblies are " said to be " of 
four sorts, for either they are of a particular congregation, or 
of a province, or of a whole nation, or of all and divers 
Christian nations." " The first sort and kind of assemblies, 
although they be within particular congregations, yet they 
exercise the power, authority, and jurisdiction of the Church 
with mutual consent." "When we speak of elderships of par- 
ticular congregations, we mean not that every particular 
church can and may have their particular elderships, especially 
to landward ; but w r e think three or four, more or fewer, par- 
ticular churches may have a common eldership to them all, to 
judge their ecclesiastical causes." " Provincial assemblies we 
call lawful conventions of the pastors, doctors, and other 
elders of any province, gathered for the common affairs of the 
churches thereof." "The national Assembly, which we call 
General, is a lawful convention of the whole Church of the 
realm or nation where it is gathered, and may be called the 
General Eldership of the whole Church within the realm. " 
" There is besides these another more General Assembly, 
which is of all nations, and of all estates of persons within the 
Church, representing the universal Church of Christ, which 
may be properly called the General Assembly, or General 
Council of the whole Church of God." 

In the eighth chapter the office of the deacons is discussed. 
To them belongs the collection and distribution of the ecclesi- 
astical property; and in this they must be subject to the 
presbytery, though they are not members of it. The ninth 
chapter treats of the patrimony of the Church. To appro- 
priate any portion of this is declared to be detestable sacrilege ; 
— it ought to be lifted by the deacons, and applied to ecclesi- 


astical uses. The tenth chapter points out the duty of the 
magistrate in relation to the Church. He is to defend it, 
provide for it, see its sentences carried into execution, but not 
to invade its inherent jurisdiction. In the eleventh chapter 
there is a list of abuses, which the Church desired to have 
reformed. Amongst these are abbacies, cathedral chapters, 
bishoprics, pluralities, the employment of ecclesiastical per- 
sons in civil affairs, the dilapidation of the Church's property, 
&c. &c. In the twelfth chapter certain things are noted 
which the Church desired to see done. It desired to see small 
parishes united, large parishes disjoined, one or more elders 
appointed in every congregation, congregational, provincial, 
and national assemblies held, patronage abolished in every 
case where there was a cure of souls, and the patrimony of 
the Church applied to four general purposes : — " One part to 
be assigned to the pastor, for his entertainment and keeping 
hospitality ; another to the elders, deacons, and other officers 
of the Church, as clerks of assemblies, takers up of Psalms, 
beadles, and keepers of the Church so far as they are neces- 
sary, joining therewith the doctors of schools, for help of the 
old foundations, where need requires ; the third portion to be 
bestowed upon the poor members of Christ ; and the fourth 
upon the reparation of Churches, and other extraordinary 
charges that are profitable to the Church and commonwealth." 
The concluding chapter points out the good that would result 
from the adoption of such a discipline : — The realm would 
become a pattern of good order ; the streets would be cleansed 
of beggars ; churches, bridges, and other public works would 
be set agoing ; God would be glorified ; the Church edified ; 
Christ and His kingdom advanced ; Satan and his kingdom 
subverted ; and God would dwell in the midst of them. 

Such are the most prominent features of the " Second Book 
of Discipline." The First Book exhibited a system of polity 
sagaciously suited to the circumstances of the country and the 
Church : it seemed to grow out of the times. The Second 
aims at elaborating a system from the New Testament, without 
reference to circumstances. The one looked to practice ; the 
other looked to the establishment of general principles. They 
differ in several respects. The " First Book of Discipline " 
had abolished the imposition of hands in ordination ; the 
Second restored it. The " First Book of Discipline " gave its 
sanction to superintendents and readers ; the Second removed 
the superintendent, as he savoured of the diocesan bishop, and 


the reader, as his office had no warrant in the Word of God, 
however much it might be required by the times. In the 
" First Book of Discipline n there is no mention whatever of 
the courts of the Church, though we can trace in some of its 
arrangements the beginnings of them all ; in the Second there 
is an elaborate chapter upon assemblies, but, singular enough, 
the presbytery, now reckoned the fundamental court of a Pres- 
byterian Church, is not marked out as a court separate and 
distinct from the kirk-session. Four ecclesiastical assemblies 
are named — the congregational, the provincial, the national, 
and oecumenical. Striking out the oecumenical, we have only 
a threefold gradation, instead of a fourfold as at present. The 
first of these, the eldership, or congregational assembly, ap- 
proximates much more closely to a modern kirk-session than 
a modern presbytery. In towns, the pastor and elders of one 
congregation were to form the eldership ; but in landward 
parishes, three or four congregations were to join their pastors 
and elders together to constitute one assembly. Strange ! that 
the very reverse should now be the case — that in landward 
parishes every congregation should have its own kirk-session, 
and that in some towns all the congregations should send their 
office-bearers to form one general session. Yet we know that 
at this very time presbyteries were springing into existence. 
In 1579 the Assembly was petitioned to erect such courts; 
and its answer was, that the weekly exercise might be re- 
garded as a presbytery l — a meeting appointed by the " First 
Hook of Discipline " for the purpose of bringing the ministers 
and people of a district together to read and interpret the 
Scriptures. But, what is much more remarkable, in the very 
Assembly in which the " Second Book of Discipline " was 
ordered to be engrossed in the minutes, a regular platform of 
presbyteries was arranged — presbyteries embracing not two or 
three congregations, but twenty or thirty, the very prototypes 
of the presbyteries which now exist. 2 

Time has made havoc upon the policy established by the 
" Second Book of Discipline," as upon everything human. 
The doctor and the deacon have all but disappeared from the 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, 1579. 

3 Ibid., 1 58 1. In 1582, the presbytery was considered a novelty, as 
the following extract from the Historie of King James the Sext will show : 
— "It pleasit the members of court to give eare to certayne informations 
maid aganis a new erectit society of ministers, callit a presbiterie, sa that 
thair moderators weir summonit to compeir before the king and counsall, 
to produce the bukis of thair proceidings, to be sene and considerit." 
Anno 1582, p. 187. 



office-bearers of the Church ; the minister and the elder alone 
remain. The kirk-session has been discriminated from the 
presbytery; and by kirk-sessions, presbyteries, synods, and 
general assemblies, the government of the Church is now 
carried on. But the " Second Book of Discipline " possesses 
much that is enduring, and to this day remains the foundation- 
stone of our ecclesiastical constitution ; while the " First Book " 
resembles a collection of parchments deposited beneath it, by 
which future generations may read the story of the times in 
which the building was begun, and the noble designs of its 
first founders. 

It is plain that the superintendents were fast falling into dis- 
repute. The name began to be disliked, and " visitor " was 
substituted in its place. But even the visitor was now 
destined to yield up his power to the presbytery. In the 
Assembly of October 1580, it was considered " to sound to 
tyrannie that sic kind of office sould stand in the person of 
ane man, quhilk sould flow from the presbyteries," 1 and 
therefore a committee was appointed to draw up a platform of 
presbyteries and constitutions for them. In the very next 
Assembly the Laird of Caprington appeared and presented a 
commission from the king to concur with the Assembly in the 
planting of churches and presbyteries, and a document con- 
taining a number of suggestions as to the course to be pur- 
sued. In this document it is stated that, leaving out the 
Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, from which no returns had 
yet been obtained, there were in all nine hundred and twenty- 
four parishes in Scotland. Of these it was said many were 
mere pendicles, many very small parishes, and of many more 
the churches were demolished, and therefore it was proposed 
to reduce the number to six hundred, and to divide these 
among fifty presbyteries, with about twenty churches attached 
to each. 2 In its eighth session, the Assembly had before it 
the report of its committee on the subject, and resolved " that 
a beginning should be had of presbyteries instantly in the 
places after named, to be exemplars to the rest that may be 
established afterwards," viz., Edinburgh, Dundee, St Andrews, 
Perth, Stirling, Glasgow, Ayr, Irving, Haddington, Linlithgow, 
Dunbar, Chirnside, and Dunfermline. 3 The thing was done, 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, October 1580. 

2 " Thir six hundred kirks to be divyded in fyftie Presbyteries, twenty 
to every presbytrie, or thereabout." (Book of the Universal Kirk, p. 
212.) So stands the king's scheme, but I cannot understand the royal 
arithmetic, as 50 x 20 = 1000. Row says twelve to each, which makes all 
right. :i Ibid., 1 581. 

A.D. 1579-81.] the king's favourites. 361 

and Scotland now for the first time saw the full machinery of 
its Presbyterian polity in motion. 

We must now leave for a little the divines of the Assembly, 
and mingle with the statesmen and gallants of the court. In 
the year 1579, Esme Stewart, a cousin of the young king, and 
generally called Mons. D'Aubigne, arrived from France on a 
visit to his royal relative. He was a young man of graceful 
exterior and many showy accomplishments, and he was not 
long at court till he became a prodigious favourite of the 
king's. Wherever James was, D'Aubigne was sure to be. They 
rode together, hunted together, hawked together ; and when 
the court was removed to Holyrood, the apartments assigned 
to D'Aubigne were next to those occupied by the king. It 
was the first noted instance of a favouritism to which James 
was all his life long in bondage. Under the smiles of the 
monarch D'Aubigne grew rapidly into greatness ; he was first 
made Earl, and subsequently Duke of Lennox ; he was raised 
to the office of Lord High Chamberlain ; the rich Abbacy of 
Arbroath was given him ; and the greatest nobles courted his 
favour. About the same time, Captain James Stewart, a 
younger son of Lord Ochiltree's, also began to acquire in- 
fluence at court. He was well educated, and had seen a good 
deal of the world ; but in his travels he had lost any little 
principle he ever had, and was now known to be profligate in 
his manners and reckless of results, if but his own interests 
were advanced. He was created Earl of Arran, under which 
name we shall hear more of him anon. From the pedagogic 
birch of Buchanan, and the stern admonitions of Morton, the 
king, now a lad of fourteen, passed into the hands of these gay 
companions and counsellors. 

The ministers of the Church beheld all this with alarm. 
D'Aubigne was a Papist. It was whispered that he had come 
to this country as a secret emissary of the Pope. It was 
known that before leaving France he had had consultations 
with the Bishops of Glasgow and Ross ; and it was told how 
the Duke of Guise had accompanied him to Dieppe, and 
remained on board ship with him some hours before he 
set sail. There were other rumours afloat of Jesuit priests 
having stolen into the country ; of plots to bring back a 
Popish queen ; of endeavours to break the alliance with Eng- 
land, and revert to the ancient alliance with France \ and as 
the danger was unseen, every one magnified it according to 
his fears. D'Aubigne partly, and only partly, allayed the 


alarm, by declaring his conversion to Protestantism. The 
young king, already vain of his theological acquirements, had 
plied him with arguments ; he had called in some Presby- 
terian clergymen to his help, and the favourite could not 
withstand the logic of the monarch and his ministers. He 
publicly renounced and abjured the Romish faith in the 
Church of St Gile's at Edinburgh, in the Royal Chapel at 
Stirling, and last of all, in a letter to the General Assembly. 1 
Still the popular mind was ill at ease in regard to Popery. 
To still suspicion, rather than to test the orthodoxy of the 
country, the king caused Craig to draw up a confession of 
faith, or covenant condemnatory of all the most obnoxious 
tenets of the Romish religion. When drawn, it was signed 
by the king and his household, and afterwards, in consequence 
of an order of the Privy Council and an act of the Assembly, 
by persons of all ranks throughout the kingdom. In opposi- 
tion to the Confession of 1560, it was called the Negative 
Confession, as it related rather to doctrines which were not 
believed, than to those which were. 2 

It was not to be expected that the ex-regent Morton would 
look on with indifference while the upstart Lennox enjoyed 
all the favour of the king, and wielded all the power of the 
country. He had lost the good opinions of the clergy and 
the people by his greed, his Simony, and his tulchan Episco- 
pacy ; but he caballed with Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was glad 
to have the aid of so powerful and crafty a man, for she 
began to dread the re-ascendancy of French influence in 
Scotland. 3 There was a bitter jealousy between the rivals, 
continual rumours of plots and counter-plots, and it was 
evident that Scotland could not hold them both. Lennox 
struck the first blow, and secured the victory. One day, 
while the Council was sitting, Captain Stewart begged per- 
mission to enter, and going down upon his knee before the 
king, he accused Morton of being privy to the murder of his 
father. Morton was sitting at the council-board when the 
charge was made, bat he was at once placed under arrest, and 
it is highly probable that the whole procedure had been pre- 
viously arranged with the king. Five months elapsed before 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, pp. 196, 197. 

2 This Confession, forming the first part of The National Covenant or 
Confession of Faith, is generally bound up in the same volume with the 
Westminster Confession. 

3 Tytler's History, vol. viii. 


he was brought to trial, and then the proof would have failed, 
had he not himself confessed that he had previous knowledge 
of the intended assassination, though he took no part in its 

On this confession he was condemned to die. He had 
reached to power by the commission of great crimes, and 
had kept it by the exercise of great severity. He had never 
hesitated to send his enemies to the scaffold \ 1 but now, 
when his own turn came, he showed that he could go thither 
too, and die, if not with the serenity of a martyr, at least with 
the firmness of a man. On the evening of Friday, the 2d of 
June 1 581, some men might be seen digging a grave in the 
Tolbooth burying ground, and depositing in it a headless 
trunk. It was the great Earl of Morton, who had so long 
kept the country in terror, and had that day perished under 
the knife of the maiden, who was thus so meanly interred. 2 
His ghastly head was exposed on the gable of the church. 

The death of Morton left Lennox supreme. But it was 
felt more than ever that his power was dangerous to the 
State — dangerous to the Church. Events were already ripen- 
ing for a conflict. James appears to have early contracted a 
partiality for the Episcopal polity. He was still a boy ; but 
he was a marvellously precocious boy, and perhaps nearly as 
wise now as at any future period of his life, for he was only a 
clever school-boy to the last. What was the origin of his 
Episcopal tendencies it is difficult to discover. Notwith- 
standing his being reared amid revolutionary nobles, and 
tutored by a republican pedagogue, he had contracted over- 
weening ideas of hereditary and indefeasible prerogative. 
Even a dull boy might see that Presbytery was essentially 
democratic. Perhaps James had actually seen that the bishops 
were courtly, smooth-spoken gentlemen, while the ministers 
were rough, outspoken men. Be this as it may, notwith- 
standing the resolutions of the Assembly, he determined to 
maintain Episcopacy ; and of course the favourite agreed with 

1 As instances of this, two poets had lampooned him ; — he hanged 
them both. The following notice occurs in the Diurnal of Occurrents, 
1572: — "2Ltf April. — The same day there was a minister hanged in 
Leith, and borne to the gibbet, because he was birsit in the boots. The 
principal cause was that he said to the Earl of Morton that he defended 
an unjust cause, and that he would repent when there was no time to 
repent. And when he was asked by whom he was requested to say the 
same, he answered, ' By the Holy Spirit.' " 

2 Spottiswood's History, lib. vi. 


the king — if it was not the king who agreed with the favourite. 
While things were in this state, the Archbishopric of Glasgow 
became vacant by the death of Boyd ; and Lennox, who held 
in his hands the patronage of the kingdom, had it at his 
disposal. He offered it to Montgomery, the minister of 
Stirling, upon condition that, so soon as he was admitted, 
he would dispone the lands, lordships, and everything belong- 
ing to the bishopric to him and his heirs, for the yearly pay- 
ment of ^£1000 Scots, with some horse-corn and poultry. 
Montgomery accepted the offer, and the conflict with the 
Church began. 1 

The matter was brought before the Assembly, which met 
in October 1581. One would have imagined that the bishop- 
elect would have been charged with accepting an office which 
had been declared unlawful by the courts of the Church, or 
for entering into a Simoniacal paction with the patron ; but 
not so. Melville appeared as his accuser ; and though his 
libel contained fifteen articles, there was not the slightest re- 
ference to the real head and front of Montgomery's offending. 
This was a tortuous policy, and such as we would not have 
expected from so bold a man. It was worse, for it is a 
perversion of justice to accuse a man of one crime and con- 
demn him for another. The articles did not charge im- 
morality, and related principally to sentiments which Mont- 
gomery was said to have uttered in the pulpit, and which 
would not now be considered as deserving of very serious 
censure. Though proof was ordered, it does not seem to 
have been led, for commission was given to the Presbytery 
of Stirling to summon him before them, try his whole life and 
doctrine, and report to the provincial Synod of Lothian. He 
was ordered, in the meantime, to continue in his ministry at 
Stirling, and not to aspire to the Bishopric of Glasgow, under 
pain of excommunication. 2 

1 Spottiswood's History, lib. vi. Calderwood says ^"500. The value 
of the bishopric was ^"4080, 13s. 4d. wSee the Appendix to Keith's 

2 itook of the Universal Kirk, October 1581. Calderwood's History, 
same date. 

The charges in the libel are curious ; for instance : — " I. That, 
publicly preaching in the church of Stirling, he propounded a question 
touching the circumcision of women, and in the end concluded that they 
were circumcised in the skin of their foreheads. 2. In Glasgow he 
openly taught that the discipline of the Kirk (*>., its polity) is a thing 
indifferent, and may stand this way or that. 3. He accused the ministers 
that they used fallacious arguments and captions, and that they were 


Montgomery ventured to defy the thunders of 
a.d. 1582. the church> In the mont h f March of the fol- 
lowing year he proceeded to Glasgow, attended by an armed 
escort, and entered the cathedral. The minister had already 
occupied the pulpit. The bishop-elect pulled him by the 
sleeve, and said, "Come down, sirrah!" but the minister 
kept his ground. There was like to be a tumult, and Mont- 
gomery was constrained to retire. The Presbytery of Stirling 
at once suspended him from the office of the ministry ; but 
he disregarded their sentence. The Privy Council now inter- 
fered, and summoned the Presbyteries of Glasgow, Stirling. 
Dalkeith, Linlithgow, and Edinburgh, to appear and answer 
for their conduct in regard to Montgomery. They declined 
the jurisdiction of the Council. The Church and the State 
had come into violent collision. 1 In April the General 
Assembly met, and the whole matter was brought before it. 
More specific and more serious charges were now brought 
against Montgomery, such as lying in the face of the Church 
courts, and despising their sentences. The king, anxious 
to save his bishop, had already sent a message to the 
Assembly, requesting that they would not trouble him in 
regard to his bishopric ; but the Assembly pursued its course 
notwithstanding. James now proceeded farther : a mes- 
senger-at-arms entered the House, and by virtue of the King's 
letters, delivered by the Lords of Secret Council, inhibited 
the Assembly from citing, excommunicating, or otherwise 
troubling Montgomery in the matter of the episcopate, under 
pain of rebellion. The Assembly directed a letter to his 
Majesty, vindicating the course they were pursuing ; and 
having done so, they were about to proceed to the final 
sentence of ecclesiastical law, excommunication — "to the 
effect that Montgomery's proud flesh be cast into the hands of 
Satan ; if he may be won again, if it be possible, to God " — 
when he yielded, confessed his faults, and promised to give 
up all thoughts of the bishopric. The Assembly received his 
submission, but at the same time instructed the Presbytery of 
Glasgow to keep a watch upon his conduct. 2 

curious brains. 4. So far as he could, he travelled to bring the original 
languages, Greek and Hebrew, into contempt, abusing thereto the words 
of the Apostle, 1 Cor. xiv., and tauntingly asked in what school were 
Peter and Paul graduated," &c, &C. 

1 Calderwood's History, 1582. 

- P.ook of the Universal Kirk, pp. 245-48. Calderwood's History, 1582. 


There was need for the caution. Probably incited by the 
king and the court, Montgomery began to preach and to 
revive his claims upon the archbishopric. The Presbytery of 
Glasgow instantly met ; but this had been anticipated, and 
the Council was equally prompt. While the ecclesiastical 
court was yet sitting, the provost, bailies, and some citizens 
entered, prohibited them from proceeding, and cited them 
to appear before the Privy Council. The presbytery refused ; 
the magistrates " put violent hands upon the moderator, 
smote him in the face, rent his beard, struck out one of his 
teeth, and thereafter committed him to ward in the Tol- 
booth." 1 The students interfered ; some fighting took place ; 
a serious tumult was apprehended ; and by tuck of drum 
and sound of bell, the citizens were collected to defend their 
bailies. But the presbytery kept to their point, and sentence 
was pronounced against Montgomery, and forwarded to the 
Presbytery of Edinburgh. On Saturday, the 9th of June, the 
Presbytery of Edinburgh met, and appointed John Davidson, 
minister of Libberton, to pronounce the sentence of excom- 
munication against Montgomery, which Davidson did on the 
following day. 2 

The meeting of Assembly was hastened. It convened on 
the 27th of June. Melville preached the opening sermon, 
and inveighed against the " bludie gullie z of absolute autho- 
rity, whereby many intended to pull the crown off Christ's 
head, and to wring the sceptre out of His hands." 4 The 
Church resolved to lay its griefs at the foot of the throne. 
A committee was accordingly appointed to proceed to Perth, 
where the king then was. They procured an audience, and 
produced their complaints, which related chiefly to the inter- 
ference of the Council with the ecclesiastical courts in the 
exercise of their jurisdiction. " Who dare subscribe these 
treasonable articles ? " said the Earl of Arran, and the Earl 
of Arran was not a man to be trifled with. " We dare," said 
Andrew Melville, " and will subscribe, and render our lives 
in the cause." Stepping forward to the table, he took the 
pen from the clerk, and wrote his name ; the rest followed. 5 
The king and his counsellors might have learned from this 
what was the temper of the men they had to deal with. 

1 Calderwood's History, 1582. 

2 Book of the Universal Kirk, pp. 256-58. Calderwood's History. 

3 Bloody knife. 4 Calderwood's History. 
6 Melville's Diary. Calderwood's History. 

A.D. 15S2.J WE DARE ! 367 

Lennox and Arran were so confounded that they thought 
they had some armed force at their back. The truth is they 
had the whole nation at their back. They were dismissed 
with a peaceful reply, but still it was not one with which the 
Assembly was satisfied. 

The din of the contest extended beyond the courts of the 
Church. The pulpits rang with it. The excitement of 
the period was increased by continual rumours of French 
intrigues, of Popish plots, and of seminary priests and 
Jesuits having been smuggled into the country. James com- 
plained to the Assembly that Balcanquhal one of the 
ministers of Edinburgh, had, in a sermon, accused his cousin 
the Duke of Lennox of labouring to restore Popery. 1 The 
Assembly asked the king to condescend upon a proof of his 
statement ; and, as he declined to do so, it absolved Bal- 
canquhal. Durie, another of the Edinburgh ministers, was 
still more outspoken. He declared from the pulpit that 
James had been moved by his courtiers to send a private 
message to the King of France and the Duke of Guise, to ask 
his mother's blessing, and was scheming to place her beside 
him on the throne. At the nick of time a certain Signor Paul 
came from the Duke of Guise to present some horses to his 
Majesty. It was instantly suspected that he had other busi- 
ness on hand, and the story went that this very man had 
been one of the butchers of St Bartholomew's day. The 
zealous Durie took to horse and rode to Kinneil, where the 
king was. Meeting Paul in the garden, he drew his hat over 
his eyes, saying, he could not look upon the devil's ambas- 
sador. Getting admission to the monarch, " Is it with the 
Guise," cried he, " that your Grace will exchange presents, — 
with that cruel murderer of the saints ? " Returning to Edin- 
burgh, he made the High Church to resound with his fiery 
eloquence. He denounced Montgomery as an apostate and 
man-sworn traitor to God and his Church. Passing on to 
the Guisean embassage, he exclaimed, " If God did threaten 
the captivity and spoil of Jerusalem because that their king 
Hezekiah did receive a letter and present from the king of 
Babylon, shall we think to be free, committing the like, or 
rather worse ?" 2 His sermon excited considerable stir, and 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, 1582. 

2 Tytler's History, vol. viii. Calderwood's History. Tytler, in his 
Appendix, gives a sketch of this sermon from the pen of one of the 


he was cited before the Council to answer for it. When he 
arrived at Dalkeith Palace, where the king was residing with 
Lennox, his Grace's cooks, zealous to avenge their master upon 
his reviler, issued from the kitchen with spits and knives, and had 
nearly elevated Durie to the honour of a second St Lawrence. 1 
He escaped this culinary martyrdom ; but he was ordered to 
leave the city, and the provost and magistrates were instructed 
to see the sentence carried into execution. 

Durie asked the advice of the Assembly as to what he 
should do. The magistrates asked the advice of the 
Assembly too, for they were members of Durie's congrega- 
tion, and were divided between their allegiance to the kirk 
and their allegiance to the king. The Assembly pronounced 
Durie's doctrine sound, and his life honest, and advised him 
not to quit the city unless he were forced, but if he were 
forced, to go peaceably. 2 The magistrates were reluctantly 
compelled to insist upon his leaving. That same night, 
about nine o'clock, he was seen taking his way along the 
High Street, accompanied by two notaries and a few of his 
brethren. When they came to the cross, one of the notaries 
read a document, in which the exiled minister protested the 
purity of his life and doctrine, and that, though he obeyed the 
sentence of banishment, he would not desist from preaching 
the Word. According to legal form, he then placed a piece 
of money in the hands of the notaries, and took instruments. 
" I, too," cried Davidson, who was with him, " must take 
instruments, and this I protest is the most sorrowful sight 
that eyes ever rested upon — a shepherd removed by his own 
flock to pleasure flesh and blood, and because he has spoken 
the truth. But plague and fearful judgments will yet light on 
the inventors." 3 

The Church was nothing daunted by the exile of Durie. 
If the king wielded the sword, it wielded the keys — still the 

1 James Melville's Diary. 

2 Book of the Universal Kirk, pp. 252, 253. Calderwood's History. 

3 Tytler's History, vol. viii. Calderwood's History. Anciently, in 
Scotland, taking instruments in the hands of a notary was very common. 
A curious instance of this is given in Mill's I Iistory of the Bishops of Dun- 
keld. One of these old prelates lying on his death-bed, having professed 
his faith, and received the sacraments of the Church, afraid lest in deli- 
rium or extreme weakness he might say things contradictory of his 
Christian profession, called in a notary and took instruments, that what- 
ever he might say after that was not to be esteemed of any weight or 



more formidable weapon of the two. The provost and bailies 
of Glasgow had assaulted a presbytery, and done violence to its 
moderator ; they were summoned before the Assembly, threat- 
ened with excommunication, and glad to save themselves by 
making an abject submission. The Lord Advocate, in the 
discharge of his duty, had penned some proclamations, which 
were esteemed slanderous to the Church. He was cited to 
appear at its bar, and he hardly escaped by humbly protesting 
that he had only translated into Scotch what had already been 
written by Lennox in French. 1 Montgomery had already 
been excommunicated, but Lennox had harboured him, and it 
was against the ecclesiastical code to harbour an excommuni- 
cated man. The uncompromising presbyters threatened " to 
take order " with the duke, the Lord High Chamberlain of 
the kingdom, the cousin of the king; for their lightnings 
could strike the tops of the highest hills. James Montgomerie, 
probably a relative of the excommunicated bishop, had spoken 
to him, and to speak to an excommunicated man was a high 
misdemeanour. He w T as ordered to make public repentance 
in the parish church of Glasgow. 2 The excommunicated man 
himself ventured to appear in the streets of Edinburgh, and 
this also was a crime. Lawson applied to the magistrates, 
and he was compelled to sneak away. The Council tried to 
save him, by making proclamation that he should be received 
as a true Christian and faithful subject; but the Church was 
stronger than the Council. He returned to the town, and 
presented himself at the Tolbooth, but he was refused admit- 
tance within the bar, and told that no excommunicated man 
could appear as a pursuer. The magistrates and officers were 
immediately upon his track, and again insisted upon his leav- 
ing the town. While this was going on within, a crowd had 
collected in the street, and were impatiently waiting for him to 
come out — some with sticks, some with stones, some with 
rotten eggs. To have surrendered him to the people might 
have cost him his life, and so he was quietly smuggled away 
by the Kirk Heugh ; but the mob got the scent, and were 
soon in full cry after him, and he did not escape from the city 
by the Potterrow gate without receiving some smart slaps upon 
the back. The king was at Perth w r hen this scene took place, 
and when he heard of it he could only throw himself down 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, June and October 15S2. 
a Book of the Universal Kirk, October 1582. 

VOL. I. 2 A 


upon the Inch, and give way to roars of laughter. 1 His sense 
of the ludicrous got the better of his sense of justice. 

On the 23d of August 1582, the king suddenly found him- 
self a prisoner at Huntingtower, a castle in the neighbourhood 
of Perth, belonging to the Earl of Gowrie. Scotland for 
centuries had been fated to have children to rule over it, and 
its nobles had learned that the faction who possessed the royal 
child were generally able to exercise the royal power. The 
Earls of Gowrie, Mar, Glammis, and some others, had beheld 
with impatience the upstarts Lennox and Arran sharing 
between them the smiles of the monarch and the government 
of the country, and encouraged by Elizabeth, that old 
fomenter of sedition, and probably alarmed for the Protestant 
faith, they had signed a bond which pledged them to drive 
Lennox from the court. As chance would have it, the king 
came to the neighbourhood of Perth to hunt, just when the 
conspiracy was nearly ripe. The opportunity was not to be 
lost ; he was decoyed to the castle of the Ruthvens ; and 
when he wished to depart, Glammis placed himself against 
the door, and informed him he was their captive. The Earl 
of Arran was shortly afterwards seized and confined in Duplin; 
the king was removed to Stirling ; and Lennox got warning 
that he would do well to leave the country without delay. 

The ministers regarded the Raid of Ruthven as the deliver- 
ance of the Church from an evil bondage, and many of them 
proclaimed their satisfaction from the pulpit. Others of them 
entered into treaty with the Confederated Lords. The exiled 
Durie was brought back to Edinburgh amidst the shouts of 
the citizens and the singing of psalms, and Lennox, who 
beheld the triumphal procession from a window, is said to 
have torn his beard with rage, and immediately to have fled to 
Dumbarton, from which he afterwards escaped to France. 2 
The Confederates knew that their cause would gain strength 
if it received the sanction of the Church ; and therefore, when 
the Assembly met in October, Lord Paisley appeared as their 
commissioner, declared that their reasons for undertaking the 
enterprise were the dangers which threatened the Church, the 
king, and the commonwealth, and beseeched them to show 
their "good liking to it," and to appoint each minister in his 
own pulpit to explain the nature of it to his people, and ex- 

1 Tytler's History, vol. viii. Calderwood's History, 1582. 

2 Melville's Diary. Calderwood, 1582. Burton, ch. lviii. The Psalm 
sung was the well known 124th. 

a. D. 1582.] GEORGE BUCHANAN. 37 1 

hort them to give it their concurrence. The Assembly at 
once resolved that the dangers alluded to existed ; but before 
proceeding farther, they sent a deputation to wait upon the 
king and learn his mind upon the matter. The king was a 
captive, and required to speak as his jailors dictated \ he con- 
fessed the Church and commonwealth were in danger. When 
the deputation returned, the whole Assembly with one voice 
declared their approbation of the Raid, and ordained an act 
to be made accordingly. 1 

On the 28th September 1582, while the excitement of the 
Ruthven enterprise was still fresh, George Buchanan, the most 
illustrious of living Scotchmen, breathed his last. Born in the 
parish of Killearn in 1506, he became early conspicuous for 
his talents, and his uncle, James Heriot, sent him to Paris to 
complete his education. But James Heriot died, and the 
Scotch scholar was left in poverty. He came back to Scot- 
land ; he struggled with bad health ; he went into the army ; 
he returned to his scholastic studies ; and the summer of 
1526 found him a second time in France. After several 
years he was once more in his native country, and acted for 
a time as tutor to James Stewart, afterwards the celebrated 
regent, and was probably the first to imbue his mind with a 
love for Lutheranism. Buchanan's religious opinions at this 
time were necessarily secret, but James V. knew he had no 
love for the monks, and employed him to write a satire upon 
the Franciscans \ and the poem was felt to be so cutting, that 
the poet was glad to escape with his life. Probably the king 
felt that he could not openly protect him. He sought an 
asylum in France, a country which he loved, and which 
appears to have always paid a willing homage to his genius. 
He taught in Bordeaux for a time ; he afterwards taught in 
Portugal ; but suspicions arose in regard to his orthodoxy, 
and he was accused of heresy and imprisoned in a monastery. 
Christendom will pardon the Portuguese monks their perse- 
cution, when it is known that it was to relieve the solitude of 
his monastic prison that Buchanan translated the Psalter into 
Latin verse, in which the piety of the Hebrew bards is em- 
balmed in the aromatic diction of the Augustan age. Set at 
liberty, he remained for a time in Portugal, and received some 
Mattering attentions from the king. After this we find him in 
England, in France, in Italy, illustrating the mediaeval descrip- 
tion of our countrymen — Scoti vagantes. About 1560 he 
returned to Scotland to leave it no more. 

1 Book of the Universal Kirk, October 1582. 


Two years afterwards, Queen Mary came, having already 
buried in France her hopes and her happiness. Buchanan 
was employed to assist her in her classical studies ; for ladies 
of fashion in those days, having no Shakespeare, Scott, or 
Macaulay to read, read the epics of Homer, the odes of 
Horace, and the grand historic fictions of Livy. Buchanan 
showed his admiration for his royal mistress by dedicating to 
her the first complete edition of his " Psalms : " Mary showed 
her appreciation of her scholarly tutor by making him Com- 
mendator of Crossraguel. But Buchanan was a Protestant in 
religion, and a republican in politics; and these principles 
naturally leagued him with the opponents of Mary's govern- 
ment. The Earl of Moray presented him to the Principality 
of St Leonard's College. The General Assembly received 
lustre from his constant attendance, and honoured itself as 
much as it honoured him by elevating him, though a layman, 
to the Moderator's chair. When Mary was driven from her 
throne, to Buchanan was entrusted the education of the infant 
king — a trust which he discharged faithfully and well. He 
made James a scholar; he could not make him more. He 
raised a wondrous crop of learning upon a thin, though sharp, 
soil. To his royal pupil he dedicated his famous treatise, 
" De jure Regni apud Scotos " — a treatise in which he brought 
back from heaven the old altar-flame of civil and religious 
liberty, quenched upon earth since the days of republican 
Greece and consular Rome. 

His last great work was the history of his country. A keen 
partisan in an age torn with contending factions, it was not to 
be expected that he should speak of his contemporaries with 
impartiality ; but still his history will ever stand a noble monu- 
ment of his industry and scholarship. He only lived long 
enough to complete it. A short time before his death, Andrew 
and James Melville went to Edinburgh to visit him. They 
found him in his bedroom, sitting in his chair, and " teaching 
his young man that servit him in his chalmer to spell a-b, ab ; 
e-b, eb." " I see, sir," said Andrew Melville, "you are not 
idle.' ; " Better this," replied the veteran scholar, " than steal- 
ing sheep, or sitting idle, which is as bad ;" — a lesson which 
his Celtic brethren on the banks of Lochlomond required two 
centuries longer to learn. Buchanan dismissed his pupil, and 
showed Melville his " Epistle Dedicatory to the King." 
Melville ventured some criticisms. " I can do no more," 
replied the feeble old man, " for thinking of another matter." 

A.D. 1583.] FRENCH EMBASSAGE. 373 

" What is that ? " said Melville. " To die ! " said Buchanan. 1 
The change for which he was preparing came, and he died so 
poor that he was buried at the public expense. His grave 
was made in the Greyfriars Church-yard, and a plain stone 
placed at the head of it \ but no one can now point out the 

While the king was in the hands of the Gowrie conspirators, 
an embassage arrived from France, at the head of which were 
De Menainville and De la Motte Fenelon. The ministers 
withstood their being received at court ; but the king, after 
debating the matter with a deputation of them, determined 
otherwise. The ambassadors demanded the use of the mass, 
which was allowed them ; and this also excited popular dis- 
content. Fenelon was a knight of the order of the Holy Spirit, 
and wore a white cross embroidered on his shoulder. This 
was denominated a badge of Antichrist ; and the ambassador 
of the Catholic King was followed wherever he went by the 
hootings of the Edinburgh mob. 2 When he was about to 
leave the country, James requested the magistrates of the 
metropolis to entertain him at a civic banquet ; the ministers, 
scandalized that such an honour should be paid to such a man, 
proclaimed a fast upon the same day. While the bailies were 
pledging the envoys in their cups, the preachers were thun- 
dering anathemas at their head in the Church of St Gile's. On 
the same day the city presented the twofold aspect of a house 
of mourning and a house of feasting. 3 Upon the whole, the 
preachers and people w r ere right, for the thrill of horror which 
darted through Europe with the intelligence of St Bartholo- 
mew's massacre was not yet forgotten, nor was it right that it 

On the 25th of June 1583, James managed to escape from 
his keepers, and threw himself into the Castle of St Andrews. 
The power of the Confederate Lords was at an end. The 
king published a proclamation, declaring the Raid of Ruthven 
to be treason, but at the same time holding out the promise of 
a pardon to all who should acknowledge their crime. The 
barons made their submission, and were forgiven ; but the 
Church could not thus easily cancel its own solemn deeds. 

1 James Melville's Diary. Buchanan's life has been written with much 
judgment and taste by Dr Irving. 

2 Spottiswood's History, lib. vi Ilistorie of King James VI., Ban. 
Club Ed. 

3 Ilistorie of King James Sext. Spottiswood. Calderwood, &c. 


The clergy, in fact, did not feel themselves called upon to do 
so ) for they still thought that the evils of the government had 
required such a remedy, and several of them did not hesitate 
to say so in the pulpit. With Arran in power, such speeches 
could scarcely pass with impunity. Durie was cited before 
the Council, but retracted, and was dismissed. Andrew Mel- 
ville was cited for using still stronger language, holding out to 
the king the fearful examples of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, 
and James III., and he would not retract. 1 He acknowledged 
what he said, but declined the judgment of the Council, on 
the ground that what was spoken in the pulpit ought first to 
be tried by the Presbytery, and that neither the king nor 
Council might, in the first instance meddle with it, though the 
speeches were treasonable. Few men will now defend the 
declinature of Melville : modern sense and modern legislation 
have decided against it. But every accused man should be 
allowed the liberty of urging every possible plea which he 
chooses ; and the absurdity of the plea should not be held as 
aggravating the crime. There is reason to think that, in this 
case, the plea was held as an aggravation of the offence. But 
there is also reason to suspect that Melville so far forgot him- 
self as to be contemptuous to the court before which he was 
arraigned. " That you may see your weakness and rashness," 
cried he to the king and his counsellors in the course of the 
trial, " in taking upon you what you neither can nor ought to 
do, these are my instructions ; see if any of you can judge of 
them, or show that I have passed my injunctions ;" and with 
that he unclasped a Hebrew Bible from his girdle, and clanked 
it down upon the table. 2 The records of the Privy Council 
bear that he declared " proudly, irreverently, and contemptu- 
ously, that the laws of God and the practices observed within 
this country were perverted, and not observed, in his case/' 3 
Would such language be permitted in the present day? 
Would such a proud speaker not be imprisoned for contempt 
of court, though for nothing else ? Melville was ordered to 
enter himself a prisoner in Blackness Castle within ten hours ; 
but some of his friends repeated to him the Angus proverb, 
" Loose and living ; " — he took the hint, and fled to Berwick. 4 
Melville was followed in his flight by several 
A,D ' l * 4 ' of his brethren, who had reason to dread the 

1 M'Crie's Life of Melville. Melville's Diary. Calderwood's History. 

2 James Melville's Diary. 

l! M'Crie's Life of Melville. 4 James Melville's Diary. 

A.D. 1584.] THE BLACK ACTS. 375 

displeasure of the king. They were not well gone till Gowrie 
was brought to trial, for a new conspiracy in which he was 
supposed to have been implicated, and condemned to death. 
He was among the last of the turbulent barons who had moved 
amidst the political storms of the last quarter of a century. 
They had almost all died by violence. Moray had perished 
from the bullet of an assassin; Grange had been hanged; 
Lethington had taken poison; Morton had yielded up life 
under the axe of the maiden ; and now Ruthven was destined 
to share his fate. 

James was bent upon destroying a form of Church govern- 
ment which he imagined to be inconsistent with his own 
kingly prerogatives. The General Assembly rested upon too 
popular a basis ; it was too independent of his absolute 
will j it assumed a jurisdiction which he could not allow. 
The ministers were too much given to discuss political subjects 
in the pulpit — to speak evil of dignities — to resist the powers 
that were ordained of God ; and therefore their liberty must 
be restrained. James had servants only too ready to assist 
him in his undertaking. Arran's power was now greater than 
ever; and he was the known enemy of the Presbyteries. 
Adamson, the titular Archbishop of St Andrews, was constantly 
at court, and laboured with all his might to perfect the Epis- 
copal polity of the Church. On the 2 2d of May 1584, the 
parliament assembled. Much business was on hand. Some 
of the greatest nobles in the kingdom were declared guilty of